My Harvard Nieman Foundation paper on smartwatches and the media was published this week
In the interviews I carried out for it, one word came up so often it was uncanny: Personal. As I mention in the report, it was used 19 times in the original Apple Watch announcement.
So it’s no surprise then to see how prominently it features in Jony Ive’s FT interview today in ‘How To Spend It’. Here’s a quote:
“I think of what preoccupied Steve in the 1970s: it was making the unobtainable power of the computer personal. And when he came back to Apple in 1996, the first thing we worked together on was the iMac, which was a personal consumer computer. So I think Apple’s contribution has always been at its most significant when it’s trying to make personal products. And this watch is clearly the most personal product we’ve made.”
Apple definitely want us to think the watch is personal. I still find it a little hard to interpret – What does an ‘impersonal’ watchlp look like? – but I think the coordinated focus on positioning the watch in this way is in part an acknowledgement of the fact that wearable tech is a very different prospect to consumers than the smartphone. As the FT piece points out, the Watch brings “fashion, technology and luxury” together, and the Watch’s 34 possible designs so far revealed definitely make customisation part of the idea of what’s personal.
A few other things stood out to me in the interview.
“It’s technology worn on the wrist: I sensed an inevitability to it”
It’s an interesting interpretation of the rise of wearable tech, to imagine basically three forces combining to create these devices:
1) Smartphone technology succeeding in miniaturising processors, batteries and screen technology to the point where creating a smartwatch is possible
2) Smartphone manufacturers (one particularly with falling profits) looking to add product and therefore revenue lines to counter a pretty mature western market for smartphones.
3) Fitness bands like Jawbone and Fitbit demonstrating the utility and openness of consumers to wearing tech.
Ive “explains how the molecules in Apple gold are closer together, making it harder than standard gold”.
The Apple Watch Edition is supposed to be 18-karat gold, which sounds like its pretty standard for luxury watches. Have Apple genuinely done something revolutionary with gold at a molecular level? Truly this is the age of wonders. Ars Technica have dug up an Apple patent that might give us a clue.