So the big announcement came an went: new phones, a payment ‘solution’ (for want of a better phrase—e-wallet just doesn’t cut it) and the long-mooted watch.
Tim Cook’s tenure at Apple has been marked, to all accounts, by his replication of what made him indispensable to Steve Jobs as Chief Operating Officer. Cook is savvy enough to realise that the trust Steve Jobs placed in Jony Ive to develop products over time was not misplaced. But. Ore importantly: Cook brings his willingness to ensure completion of the development cycle to products, as per his background in operational management. It is this wheel that is key to whether new product segments rise and fall. The lessons from ‘Antennagate’ and the Maps debacle are front and centre. This has led To a ‘no rush’ phase of product design completion.
Forget the iPhone announcement: for all the hype it is an iterative development to the existing market. The 5c marked a willingness to branch further than the sleek, stylistic phone and may in time to come be seen as the first major stamp of Cook as CEO. The iPhone 6 (& plus) are not as notable as the 5c as part of overall development. The key here is the identification of the intensely personal and close roles devices play in people’s lives now. And for the members of the Cult of Apple, this is an intense relationship.
Forget the payments announcement: it is a necessicity to provide this functionality in the design of the smaller devices now the reassurance of security has reached a certain level, as well as levels of product adoption. The payments system will have major benefits and flow-through effects for customers and is a worthy development that, for some, should have been integrated (at least) twelve-months ago.
Forget U2 giving away their album and bringing musical legitimacy to the flagging fortunes of iTunes.
Yet remember the announcement of the watch. The watch is the takeaway and game changer, more-so than the fluctuating size and functionality of iDevices. It is the the argument that “wearables”—that God awful phrase bandied about—can cut through to the masses and embed technology in a way more closely than before. More personal than before, always on your person.
Google Glass is an example of something taking an old concept to new ends. And, for want of a better comment, it is an interesting experiment. What remains to be seen is if Apple’s flair for creating new products with enough panache to gain market traction, will gain said traction that enriches the experience of the product. If Apple can gain widespread traction and link the Watch into it’s ecosystem, the proximity of the ecosystem becomes even closer to all of us then it has ever really been before.
The feel may slip under the radar, but it is a very clear organic step that poses interesting questions. How far will we embed digital ecosystems to ourselves? Would we chip ourselves for X, Y or Z functionality? And how do we begin to divorce the myriad of issues that the Smartphone has created in our society in the last ten years? Our entire social discourse in the West has been impacted by different platforms, and it would be easy to see this product as just that: another product platform. It is much more: it is moving the proximity of the organic platform closer to our own organic ways of being. The Watchmaker has long sought to bring a few things close to us. Apple are looking to design unforetold proximity—and may yet succeed where others have failed.