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Apple’s legendary first design boss says ‘smartwatches are stupid’

Zach Epstein
June 13th, 2014 at 2:50 PM
iWatch Features

Steve Jobs had a number of talents that made him the brilliant CEO we all remember, but one of his most impressive abilities is one that isn’t often discussed: Jobs had an uncanny ability to attract talent and surround himself with some of the most skilled executives the industry has ever known. In terms of design, Jobs knew early on that Apple’s products would need a look and a UX that set them apart if they were going to succeed, and he brought on Hartmut Esslinger in 1982 to make products that people would love and remember.

Esslinger did just that, and he is still revered in the industry today. He is currently a DeTao Master of Industrial Design with The Beijing DeTao Masters Academy in China, and his opinions are still widely respected.

Unfortunately for Apple, he happens to think that the “exciting new product category” the company is about to enter is stupid.

“Smartwatches are stupid,” Esslinger told Forbes in a recent interview. “Why would I put cheap electronics on my wrist as a symbol of [my] emotion?” He believes that smartwatches and fitness trackers are little more than a gimmick with no real value proposition for users.

The iconic designer certainly isn’t alone in thinking that smartwatches seem very overblown right now. Currently available devices in this category offer consumers precious little of value, and any potential gains don’t seem to offset the hassle of carrying yet another device that needs to be charged every day.

Will Apple’s “iWatch” change that? We won’t know anything for certain until the device debuts this coming October, but Apple clearly has a lot of work to do if it hopes to launch a device that can succeed where countless others have floundered so far — even with Samsung’s marketing might, it couldn’t even ship 1 million Galaxy Gear smartwatches. And who knows how many of the 800,000 units it did ship were actually purchased by end users.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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