We have to credit Apple. Not only has it created a nice smartwatch, it’s also created a whole cottage industry in how to hype other things by deriding the Apple Watch.
Writing for Fortune Magazine and hyping their “Brainstorm Tech” conference, Cliff Leaf wonders aloud “Is Apple Watch a Design Flop?” (No link, but a tip o' the antlers to Andrew Zoll.)
Just askin’ is all.
In an age when every day dumps a new whizbang product—a me-too smartphone, watch, tablet, fitness tracker, sound system, app—on consumers’ laps, there is something critical, something deeply human, being lost: design.
Wouldn’t it be surprising if Apple, the company most noted for its design ethic, had created a design failure? Failure has too many syllables, though, so it’s a “flop”.
Where there was more accord, surprisingly, was in the group’s assessment that the prodigiously hyped Apple Watch…
Designers don’t like thing that was designed by other designers. Surely this has never happened before in the history of the world.
“I’m actually highly disappointed by the Apple Watch,” said [Gadi] Amit [, principal designer at the San Francisco-based NewDealDesign].
Oh, no. Oh. No. It’s awful that this design expert is so disappointed in the Apple Watch. Clearly he’s got a lot of design experience. The Macalope didn’t even know school principals were designed, he assumed it was a vocation that people were born to like bee keeping or chartered accountancy. But this guy actually designs them. The Macalope wouldn’t have chosen ill-fitting suits and combovers or helmet hair but, then, he’s not a designer.
The horny one wondered how well-versed in design Amit was so he checked out NewDealDesign’s web site. In addition to designing school administrators, Amit also worked on some devices you might have heard of, such as the Lytro camera.
And the Fitbit.
Which was probably not worth mentioning. The fact that Amit worked on one of the Apple Watch’s competitors? Not at all a noteworthy detail. Certainly Fortune didn’t think it was worth mentioning seeing as how they did not, in fact, mention it at all. (UPDATE: Thanks to Cliff Leaf for updating the piece to reflect the conflict of interest. Clearly the omission was not intentional.)
“To some degree, Apple missed an opportunity to redefine why the tiny screen is on our wrist at all. I’m an Apple admirer and hoped for an ‘iPhone moment.’ This wasn’t it.”
If you’re not inventing iPhone-level products all the time, can you really be said to be in business at all?
(Statement applies to Apple only. Void where prohibited by law.)
Another person on the panel who didn’t like the Apple Watch was Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook’s director of product design, who said “the idea of the watch is anachronistic”. Which in no way should be considered code for “Apple won’t let us violate your privacy on the Watch so we have no interest in it.”
The Macalope is not saying there is no room to criticize the design of the Apple Watch. Plenty of nominal Apple fans have questioned the value of the digital crown and the side button as well as the app layout and glances. It probably could be simpler and definitely could have smoother transitions and more reliable interactions.
But when the notable thing from your conference was a salacious jab at an Apple device from an Apple competitor it becomes obvious it’s less about design and more about promotion.