Holy Sellouts, Batman! I received an e-mail from Apple at 6:44 am Pacific time on Wednesday, April 25:

WWDC2012. Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. June 11-15 in San Francisco. It’s the week we’ve all been waiting for. Register now!

A little more than an hour later, I clicked the link. On the WWDC page, a box said:

Sorry, tickets are sold out.

That’s par for the course for Apple’s WWDC; the same thing happened in 2011, and in previous years as well, especially since the introduction of iOS. And at Google I/O, which similarly sold out in half an hour when tickets became available on March 26. Google’s conference is June 27-29, also in San Francisco.

Clearly, there’s something that’s driving developers to focus on mobile. As you can see in a recent study on enterprise developers that we did at BZ Research, more than half of organizations are building mobile apps. While there are plenty of enterprise developers at conferences like Apple’s WWDC or Google I/O, there are also many entrepreneurial developers hoping to come up with the next Angry Birds.

As we prepare to hold our own mobile developer conferences for Android and Windows Phone app developers, it’s exciting to see this much activity in the development market. The world needs more highly trained, highly motivated developers to create opportunities and drive our economy forward.

And that’s what makes the news from the University of Florida potentially distressing. While the news is confusing, it appears that the school is looking to save money by moving its Computer Engineering programs to its school of electrical engineering, and also scaling back research and graduate programs in computer science. According to a document said to be written by the dean of the College of Engineering:

Under this proposed plan, all of the Computer Engineering Degree programs, BS, MS and PhD, would be moved from the Computer & Information Science and Engineering Dept. to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept. along with most of the advising staff. This move would allow us to support these degree programs using the existing faculty support staff in other depts. Roughly half of the faculty would be offered the opportunity to move to ECE, BME or ISE. These faculty would continue to support the graduate and research mission in the Computer Engineering degree track. The choice of which faculty and which departments will be made based on fit with the research program and with the receiving departments. Staff positions in CISE which are currently supporting research and graduate programs would be eliminated. The activities currently covered by TAs would be reassigned to faculty and the TA budget for CISE would be eliminated. The faculty remaining in CISE would then focus their efforts on teaching and advising students in the existing Computer Science BS and MS degree programs, offered through both COE and CLAS. Their assignments would change to reflect this new educational mission with sole focus on delivering quality education for students in these degree programs. Any faculty member who wishes to stay in CISE may do so, but with a revised assignment focused on teaching and advising. Tremendous demand for graduates with these degrees exists, and this new mission would allow us to devote more faculty time to grow both the size and excellence of the Computer Science degree program.

Adding to the hyperbole around this discussion is that the school is looking to save about US$1.4 million with this move while also increasing the school’s athletic budget by about $2 million to $97.7 million, according to this breathless article by Forbes writer Steven Salzberg. There has been a response by the Univ. of Florida’s director of public affairs.

My expectation is that the Univ. of Florida will back off from whatever it was planning, due to the unwanted publicity. But still, now is the time to be increasing spending on computer science research and education, not scaling it back.

Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Read his blog at ztrek.blogspot.com.