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The Critical Path #91: Apple's Douglas MacArthur

Horace expands on last episode’s discussion of organizational structure, as well as his recent appearance on Screen Time with Guy English. We begin speculation on the job iWatch would be hired to do, and preview the relaunch of High Density.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #91: Apple’s Douglas MacArthur.

  • LS

    Can Apple produce a product that will allow them to kill the iPhone the way the iPhone was deployed to kill the iPod? I think an iWatch is how that happens.

    • LS

      And what we’ll be left with is phablets, tablets and watches who’s function is more like a feature/smart phone who’s job is communications, navigation and location information. Or at least I’d love it if they did.

      • marcoselmalo

        I’m not sure I understand you. The trend as I understand it is towards more general computing in a mobile form factor. Are you saying you’d prefer a move towards device specialization?

    • David V.

      The iPhone was not “deployed to kill the iPod”. Apple introduced it on the shoulders of the iPod (and of the Mac), knowing or suspecting that it would come to cannibalize the iPod sales. However, if it hadn’t, that wouldn’t necessarily have meant the iPhone had failed its reason for deployment. As always, Apple’s reason for deployment was simply to make great profits through a great product.

      (Also, I’m doubtful watches can significantly displace smartphones in the coming decade. At least not without some additional larger sized display interface.)

      • marcoselmalo

        Steve Jobs/Apple management had the foresight to realize that the only threat to the iPod was a new disruption, not an “iPod killer” copycat product. Realizing that such a disruption is inevitable, they set about disrupting themselves, fears of cannibalization be damned.

        I imagine that this process of “red teaming” their strategies or product lineup is an ongoing process and ingrained in the company. This doesn’t guarantee that Apple will be the company to develop an iPhone killing disruption, but it certainly increases their chances.

  • Chris Blanchard

    I’d be cautious of calling whatever Apple has planned for the wrist a *watch* because it has the ability to cloud thinking on this subject. Cook has primarily stated an interest in *wearables* (and in particular the wrist) for a good reason. Calling it a watch narrows thinking on what it would look like (a face, a strap, etc) and its function (gleaning information, fashion). It also potentially leads some of the discussion down a blind alley. If Apple really are going to “re-imagine” what goes on the wrist, the size of the watch market or how many people wear a watch today is unlikely to be a meaningful determinant of success.

    Reminds me of Ive on a kids show making a passing remark of what a
    name can do:

    Perhaps the trademark could be a defensive move to give Apple the option to christen its wearable in a way a consumer can quickly grasp

    • marcoselmalo

      Before Wearable Computing became a big thing, it was a lesser other thing. There’s a company called ScottEvest that makes ingenious clothing with clever pockets for your portable devices and hidden channels to run wires (and also loops in the collar for securing earbuds). There was another company that was making parkas with iPod controls built into the sleeves.

      Not the same thing, of course. But I am equally interested in the idea of computers embedded in clothing as I am with the idea of a smart watch, maybe more so. Flexible screens worn on the sleeve are at least theoretically possible. There are none of the issues of space for the system, and I would guess that the sensor for a heart rate monitor might be more accurate if placed in close proximity to the heart.

      Since I imagine the computer and screen would be removable for washing, the system would also be easily upgradable.

      Watches are interesting, but I’m not generally interested in wearing a watch.

  • jbwales

    Apple iWatch may have nothing whatsoever to do with wrists. It could just as easily be their expression of re-inventing the TV experience.

  • Bruce_Mc

    One job for a watch that nobody has mentioned is tracking children. Imagine a parent being able to see the location and heart rate of their children 24/7 on a phone, tablet, or computer. Such a watch would not compete with any existing device.

    At a minimum for very young kids it could even do without a display or any apps at all for the wearer, although time and an alarm would be helpful.

    As kids grow up a display would be more useful, with apps that could be unlocked by the parent as appropriate: games, navigation, a “phone home” app, etc. Of course watches for kids would have to be comfortable, rugged, and have long battery life.

    • marcoselmalo

      The possibilities begin to open if it doesn’t have a display. A collar comes to mind. Another issue is removability. Would a small child’s wristband or whatever be unremovable or otherwise tamperproof?

      Either way, it would be more socially acceptable compared to chipping your kid subcutaneously for all but the most geeky parents. I suspect Google will announce a product like this before Apple ever does.

      Which brings me to my joke future tech. The next step after wearables, but before (human) embedded computing, will be swallowable computing.