By now we have all had time to take in Tuesday’s release of the long-awaited Apple watch, I have read the (mostly) rave reviews and why this product will affect the comparably priced Swiss ‘manufacturers’. Personally though I feel the Swiss, particularly the luxury brands that had been a little nervous prior, were celebrating long into the night knowing they were safe from an immediate smart-watch threat
When Steve Jobs first released the iPod in 2001, it wasn’t the only digital music player available, nor was it the best sounding or with the largest capacity, but it was, by far, the best looking and most innovative in its simplicity. Only available in white with a steel reverse it was like nothing we had seen prior, it was beautiful, it was cool, it was an object that even if you didn’t need one you still wanted one. When Steve Jobs released the first iPhone in 2007 he took everyone by surprise when he put up a picture of all the existing smartphones and asked, “What is wrong with these phones?” the answer, we all now know, was the use of a physical keyboard that really wasn’t necessary. How many smartphone still have fixed keyboards? The first iPhone was only available in black and looked like no phone before it, thanks to Apple our perception of what a phone could look like had changed and it quickly became another super-cool ‘must-have’ item because of it.
It was this type of out-of-the-box thinking I was hoping/expecting to see on Tuesday. With (probably) an unlimited financial budget for a new project that took 3 years to develop and had two of the best designers of our era working together on (Johnny Ives and Marc Newson), I surmised it had to be groundbreaking. A watch like no other watch we had seen before, an object we didn’t necessarily need but would want anyway because it would look so beautiful and be so functional, we once again just had to have it. Instead we were presented with a visually fatter, more rounded and Ikepod-like version of the Samsung smart watch. Sure, it might have more gizmo’s and be better made than the Samsung, but Apple became the giant it is today by thinking differently when it came to new products
Perhaps telling to Tim Cook’s personality, rather than be presented with a singular ‘this is it’ device as in 2001 and 2007, we (the consumer) are presented with a plethora of options in final design to make it ‘ours’ rather than all of Apple’s previously released major products that were distinctly ‘theirs’. Steve Jobs was apparently a nightmare to work with because he was so passionate and single-minded in his unrelenting drive in overseeing every detail. Somehow I can’t imagine him letting the consumer have so many design options that will make it less identifiable and ultimately dilute the brands image.
Prior to Tuesday I had already decided the new AppWatch would be a must-have purchase, I would wear it on my right wrist to compliment the vintage Rolex on my left and use it as a wrist-computer or alternate time-zone. It would be such a cool design I could get away with wearing two, such different, watches and use it for maps etc. while the whopping IPhone+ stayed snugly in my pocket. Then Tuesday came. With the position of the crown it isn’t practical for your right wrist, which in turns forces people to choose between their beloved Patek/Rolex/AP, or an AppWatch, rather than as well as.
I confess unlike others I haven’t seen the Apple watch in the metal so could possibly be swayed once released, but I doubt it. In the meantime, no matter how many great reviews I read I will continue to be disappointed, not necessarily because of the end product but because of what it had the potential to be.