Let’s Do The Time Warp Again: The AltWWDC Keynote Breakfast

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Apple has been holding developer conferences for almost a quarter century, so it’s not surprising that the AltWWDC Keynote breakfast is less like Ugly Betty’s anti-prom and more like a midnight run of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Every one knows the drill and audience participation is high. It’s a lot of fun, too. AltWWDCers don’t have to be polite: they boo with gusto when Tim Cook mentions the 71-second WWDC ticket sellout and don’t feel obliged to clap as the cosseted official crowd does when the maps update is introduced.

There’s a burst of snickers and a few “dohs!” when the Anki demo stalls but heartfelt applause and a cry of “Thank you, sweet Jesus!” when the extended battery life is unveiled.

Someone yells “This is boring!” as Craig Federighi’s tabs demo drags on. They groan when Phil Schiller talks about sharing the new MacPro with “6,000 of our closest friends.” And there are cries from the peanut gallery about the form factor of the MacPro: What? Is that a Tic-Tac, Coke Can? R2D2? And plenty of oohs-and-ahs over the unveiling of iOS 7.

AltWWDC is running parallel all week to the Apple conference. (We’ll also be covering the panel about insight from the keynote, so stay tuned.) There are plenty of guys — yeah, there are some women but there won’t be any lines for the restroom — sporting the 2012, 2011 WWDC sweatshirts. The organizers tell me that there were people lined up on Market street at 7 a.m. to make sure they got a spot.

Cult of Mac hasn’t been part of the official WWDC since, well, after the iPhone was unveiled, so we’re kind of alt by default. The doors open at 9 a.m., I arrive by 9:15 and all the seats in both Keynote rooms are taken. Just like at Moscone Center, there’s fuel for all the news that’s about to come. By the time I reach the goods at Alt, the Krispy Kreme donuts are history but the breakfast burritos and the coffee are still holding out.

I spot an outlet in the back of the room, source a table from the hall and steal some chairs. It’s kind of a microcosm of WWDC; a crowd of 200-300 people from all over. There are some guys speaking French and a smattering of German and Italian, too. One guy came from Chicago, the guy next to him from Florida, another brought the family out for the week from Phoenix. Marc Schwieterman, who pulls up a chair next to me, came out from Ohio just for Alt. He’s spent the last few years developing apps on the side and has five or six in different stages of development.

“I hesitated for a second to buy the actual tickets, then they were all gone. But I’m sure being here in San Francisco during WWDC is going to be a good thing.”

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Nicole MartinelliNicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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