I was one of the lucky few to get a golden ticket this morning, and I am very grateful for it but I am also saddened by the number of fellow developers who missed out. As I live in Australia I had to get up at 2:45am to be ready for 3am. I had seen all the calculations going round the Internet showing the projected sell out time to be anywhere from 0-3 minutes and so was feeling nervous but confident about my chances, surely it wouldn't be that hard to get a ticket would it? I didn't have any special tricks to boost my chances, all I did was set my clock to show seconds and sat pressing refresh over and over until the little "Buy Now" button showed up. I clicked through, filled out the form and then got the "Thank you, your order is being processed" email. Well that wasn't so hard! My phone then buzzed with messages from other friends asking if I got a ticket, I was shocked to find out they had all missed out. I then opened Twitter to and was amazed at the number of people that hadn't got a ticket.
The system is obviously broken, if I have to get up at 2:45am and still not be guaranteed to get a ticket for that effort there is something wrong. I first attended WWDC 3 years ago and there was no problem getting a ticket, it was the first year it sold out but it still took a week to do so. This year people had to have all sorts of tricks up their sleeve to get a ticket and most still didn't pay off. For instance @jackoplane had this crafty system (link), I myself had Pingdom and WWDC alerts setup and custom monitoring scripts that could be run on your own machine were very common on GitHub.
So what can Apple do better? Here are some ideas.
There are bigger conferences than WWDC and they seem to handle it better. One strategy I believe would work quite well would be to split the ticket into parts. This system is used successfully by the Game Developers Conference (GDC). They have a number of ticketing options, only want to goto the Indie Games Festival but the main conference doesn't matter to you? No problem, just buy that part of the ticket. We have all heard stories of non-developers buying developer memberships and conference tickets just to goto the Keynote so why not sell tickets just for that. Many people say the real reason to goto WWDC is the labs, have a problem with CoreLocation? Ask the engineers who actually work on it! Apple could sell tickets to the lab categories, this would also allow them to judge demand for each lab and schedule accordingly.
This one is obvious. Moscone West is only so big, why not rent another Moscone building or a bigger location. Divide the seminars based on category. Perhaps Mac OS in one building and iOS in the other. Sure it doesn't help the overflowing Keynote problem but combined with the first suggestion this would not matter.
One suggestion heard often is why not have another WWDC in Europe or similar 6 months after the US version? I don't believe this idea is feasible considering the fact that Apple would have to fly all the engineers over for the labs plus the speakers. They would also need accommodation and food, the costs would be too high to make it worth it. However, why not have the labs available online? You could pay a ticket entry to get a scheduled appointment with the Apple engineer you need to talk to. Make them available a few times a year and post a schedule so it is easy to know when the next one is.
These are just some suggestions, do you have some others? Send them to me! @bentrengrove