Jony Ive's publicity tour continues as he discusses Apple Watch design in new interview

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited March 2015
Continuing his evolution from behind-the-scenes design czar to company-fronting rock star, Apple's Jony Ive granted an interview to one of his hometown newspapers this week and revealed his reasons for joining Apple, touched on his friendship with Steve Jobs, and discussed the design of the Apple Watch.


Jobs and Ive, with former iPod executive Jon Rubinstein in the background.


"I see design as a way you look at the world and as a thought process," Ive told Nick Foulkes of British broadsheet The Financial Times. After initially viewing computers through a cynical lens, Ive was drawn to Apple after using a Mac and finding himself "shocked" at the ease with which he "became aware of the people who had designed, developed and made it."

"So in a way I wasn't actually that interested in the Mac itself, but did have a clear sense of the humanity within it," he said. "For example, there was the fact that you could change the sounds it made. I think you start to develop a relationship with the product, in that you feel it's the result of the great care taken by the people who worked together to develop it. And you respond to that."

That sense of identity left with Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, Ive believes, and "didn't really come back until Jobs himself returned to the company."
"I quite like this sense of almost being careless and just glancing. I think for certain things the wrist is the perfect place for this technology."
Jobs and Ive were famously close, and the designer reiterated that the two were more than colleagues -- they were, he says, "very close friends."

On the subject of the Apple Watch, Ive is more concerned with "how we can make [the Apple Watch] as good as possible than how many we'll sell," saying that even as the Watch "is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we're still working and improving."

"The best products are those where you have optimised each attribute while being very conscious of other parts of the product's performance," he added, recalling that designing the Watch was difficult because he and his team found little fault with classic wristwatches.

"It was different with the phone - all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time," Ive said. "That's not the case here. We're a group of people who love our watches. So we're working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists."
"This is difficult to describe and it could be misinterpreted very easily, but there is a sense of almost serving your fellow humans."
Still, Ive believes the Watch fits well within Apple's wheelhouse. The company is at its best, he thinks, when making products that are designed to be deeply personal.

"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 on together 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."

Of his legendary regard for the experience of product packaging, Ive said that he has "always liked the idea that if we are heavy in our thinking, we can be much lighter in the implementation."

"So there's huge virtue, I think, in keeping the packaging small: at least, it is the right choice environmentally, it's easier to move things around and you don't end up with your wardrobes full of large watch boxes that you don't use."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,404member
    "It was different with the phone - all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time," Ive said. "That's not the case here. We're a group of people who love our watches. So we're working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists."

    Hm.... sounds a bit like "Actually, I do not see much benefit in making this smart watch, but I was told to do this anyway." ;-)

    Apart from joking, I am curious what the introduction next week will bring. Right now I share Ive's view in that I love my watches and I do not feel thay are cumbersome, or missing something, and the features I know so far appear to be in the reign of gadget to me, but not really making a step change in my every day life, like MacOS, Mouse, iPod, iPhone etc. did. Apar from that I appreciate the mechanics in my watches more than I feel I would appreaciate the electronics inside a smart watch. Let's see if that changes over time....
  • Reply 2 of 54
    On the subject of the Apple Watch, Ive is more concerned with "how we can make [the Apple Watch] as good as possible than how many we'll sell," saying that even as the Watch "is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we're still working and improving."

    Here, Ive is preparing us for low sales of the Apple Watch. His reference to "still working and improving" it is a sign that there is still much work to be done, so:

    "Watch out, Ye Early Adopters!"

    "And this watch is clearly the most personal product we've made."

    Therein lies the problem. A watch [B]should[/B] be a personal possession. But there is only one design of the Apple Watch, so if Apple were to sell millions, you would be wearing the most impersonal watch you could imagine.

    "So there's huge virtue, I think, in keeping the packaging small: at least, it is the right choice environmentally, it's easier to move things around and you don't end up with your wardrobes full of large watch boxes that you don't use."

    Yet the Apple Watch is one of the biggest, clunkiest watches around!

    Boob, thy name is Apple post-Jobs.
  • Reply 3 of 54
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,486member
    "It was different with the phone - all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time," Ive said. "That's not the case here. We're a group of people who love our watches. So we're working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists."

    Hm.... sounds a bit like "Actually, I do not see much benefit in making this smart watch, but I was told to do this anyway." ;-)

    Apart from joking, I am curious what the introduction next week will bring. Right now I share Ive's view in that I love my watches and I do not feel thay are cumbersome, or missing something, and the features I know so far appear to be in the reign of gadget to me, but not really making a step change in my every day life, like MacOS, Mouse, iPod, iPhone etc. did. Apar from that I appreciate the mechanics in my watches more than I feel I would appreaciate the electronics inside a smart watch. Let's see if that changes over time....

    Obviously, if Apple Watches are accepted as fashionable they've won half the battle. Function is the next stage in the battle for consumer acceptance. I think the Apple Watch is going to be a smash, the more I hear about it.
  • Reply 4 of 54
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    "It was different with the phone - all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time," Ive said. "That's not the case here. We're a group of people who love our watches. So we're working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists."

    Hm.... sounds a bit like "Actually, I do not see much benefit in making this smart watch, but I was told to do this anyway." ;-)

    Apart from joking, I am curious what the introduction next week will bring. Right now I share Ive's view in that I love my watches and I do not feel thay are cumbersome, or missing something, and the features I know so far appear to be in the reign of gadget to me, but not really making a step change in my every day life, like MacOS, Mouse, iPod, iPhone etc. did. Apar from that I appreciate the mechanics in my watches more than I feel I would appreaciate the electronics inside a smart watch. Let's see if that changes over time....

    Man you're prett clueless about how Apple and Ive work. He and his team weren't forced to do this -- they *wanted* to do it and had to convince leadership. Do yourself a favor and read the New Yorker profile on Ive before you make another mistake.
  • Reply 5 of 54
    bobjohnsonbobjohnson Posts: 154member

    Look around you at the watches people buy, and notice how many of them are slightly modified "homages" to the Submariner, which by the way has itself been on sale virtually unchanged for almost a century. That should tell you everything you need to know about how much the general public cares about differentiation in this space.

  • Reply 6 of 54
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    On the subject of the Apple Watch, Ive is more concerned with "how we can make [the Apple Watch] as good as possible than how many we'll sell," saying that even as the Watch "is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we're still working and improving."

    Here, Ive is preparing us for low sales of the Apple Watch. His reference to "still working and improving" it is a sign that there is still much work to be done, so "Watch out, Ye Early Adopters!"

    "And this watch is clearly the most personal product we've made."

    Therein lies the problem. A watch should be a personal possession. But there is only one design of the Apple Watch, so if Apple were to sell millions, you would be wearing the most impersonal watch you could imagine.

    "So there's huge virtue, I think, in keeping the packaging small: at least, it is the right choice environmentally, it's easier to move things around and you don't end up with your wardrobes full of large watch boxes that you don't use."

    Yet the Apple Watch is one of the biggest, clunkiest watches around!

    Boob, thy name is Apple post-Jobs.

    Troll harder, dude. Throw in some Jobs would nevers in there.

    Any mass produced consumer good looks like the other ones. A gold submariner Rolex looks just like every other gold submariner Rolex.

    If you think talking about iterative improvement is a warning of bad sales, then you don't understand product design or Apple very well. But we knew that.
  • Reply 7 of 54
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,486member
    nolamacguy wrote: »
    Man you're prett clueless about how Apple and Ive work. He and his team weren't forced to do this -- they *wanted* to do it and had to convince leadership. Do yourself a favor and read the New Yorker profile on Ive before you make another mistake.

    They said they were joking. Perhaps you should pay more attention?
  • Reply 8 of 54
    bobjohnson wrote: »
    Look around you at the watches people buy, and notice how many of them are slightly modified "homages" to the Submariner, which by the way has itself been on sale virtually unchanged for almost a century. That should tell you everything you need to know about how much the general public cares about differentiation in this space.

    I have to agree, I'm not sure why people think classic wristwatches are that personal, unless they've been handed down in your family. From a distance they really all look the same, round chronographs with either a metal or leather strap. At least with Apple Watch I'll be able to change watch faces on a whim.
  • Reply 9 of 54
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,486member
    I have to agree, I'm not sure why people think classic wristwatches are that personal, unless they've been handed down in your family. From a distance they really all look the same, round chronographs with either a metal or leather strap. At least with Apple Watch I'll be able to change watch faces on a whim.

    You'll be able to change the bands on a whim.
  • Reply 10 of 54
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I have to agree, I'm not sure why people think classic wristwatches are that personal, unless they've been handed down in your family. From a distance they really all look the same, round chronographs with either a metal or leather strap. At least with Apple Watch I'll be able to change watch faces on a whim.

    Exactly. From a distance would you know what watch brand someone is wearing? I doubt it.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    "It was different with the phone - all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time," Ive said. "That's not the case here. We're a group of people who love our watches. So we're working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists."

    Hm.... sounds a bit like "Actually, I do not see much benefit in making this smart watch, but I was told to do this anyway." ;-)

    Apart from joking, I am curious what the introduction next week will bring. Right now I share Ive's view in that I love my watches and I do not feel thay are cumbersome, or missing something, and the features I know so far appear to be in the reign of gadget to me, but not really making a step change in my every day life, like MacOS, Mouse, iPod, iPhone etc. did. Apar from that I appreciate the mechanics in my watches more than I feel I would appreaciate the electronics inside a smart watch. Let's see if that changes over time....

    I slightly agree with you. Being a mechanical engineer myself I am fascinated with mechanical watch movement and how complex it can get. That being said, you really only find that in the ridiculously expensive watches that cost as much as luxury cars. Most watches today are Quartz movement, so replacing all those watches of mine with an electronic Apple Watch won't be that big of a deal. Also, being that the Apple Watch syncs with the atomic clock makes it a much better time keeper than any mechanical watch can ever be.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,404member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post





    Man you're prett clueless about how Apple and Ive work. He and his team weren't forced to do this -- they *wanted* to do it and had to convince leadership. Do yourself a favor and read the New Yorker profile on Ive before you make another mistake.

     

    Hence the "Apart from joking".  Reading all sometimes helps :-)

  • Reply 13 of 54
    You'll be able to change the bands on a whim.

    Well the watch bands I'd have to go out of my way to buy. The watch faces can be changed in the settings.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,404member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    Obviously, if Apple Watches are accepted as fashionable they've won half the battle. Function is the next stage in the battle for consumer acceptance. I think the Apple Watch is going to be a smash, the more I hear about it.

     

    That's an excellent point.

  • Reply 15 of 54
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,745member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post



    On the subject of the Apple Watch, Ive is more concerned with "how we can make [the Apple Watch] as good as possible than how many we'll sell," saying that even as the Watch "is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we're still working and improving."



    Here, Ive is preparing us for low sales of the Apple Watch. His reference to "still working and improving" it is a sign that there is still much work to be done, so:



    "Watch out, Ye Early Adopters!"



    "And this watch is clearly the most personal product we've made."



    Therein lies the problem. A watch should be a personal possession. But there is only one design of the Apple Watch, so if Apple were to sell millions, you would be wearing the most impersonal watch you could imagine.



    "So there's huge virtue, I think, in keeping the packaging small: at least, it is the right choice environmentally, it's easier to move things around and you don't end up with your wardrobes full of large watch boxes that you don't use."



    Yet the Apple Watch is one of the biggest, clunkiest watches around!



    Boob, thy name is Apple post-Jobs.



    Why make contrarian posts when *you already know* it'll be completely dominant? It'll be a massive hit and will redefine the watch industry. It'll do to watches what the iPhone did to mobile phones. 

     

    And "low sales" in relation to WHAT, exactly?  In relation to all other smart watches, it'll far outsell. If the smart watch industry is small to begin with, you need to prepare for high sales *in relation* to the size of the current smart watch market. 

     

    But here's the real kicker:  the Apple Watch puts ALL watches - from smart watches to luxury brands - in grave danger. Apple will disrupt the ENTIRE watch industry. So in due course Apple will expand the market to as yet inconceivable proportions. Those who never cared about or thought they needed a watch, suddenly ...        you know how the story goes.    ;) 

  • Reply 16 of 54
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I love this quote:

    [QUOTE]When asked how many Apple Watches the company will sell, he answers: “I’m much more concerned about how we can make them as good as possible than how many we’ll sell. We’re brutally self-critical and go through countless iterations of each product.”[/QUOTE]

    Interesting that Apple chooses outlets like the Financial Times and New Yorker for exclusives. I like it just because I'm sure it pisses off people like Nilay Patel at The Verge. :D
  • Reply 17 of 54
    sog35 wrote: »
    On the subject of the Apple Watch, Ive is more concerned with "how we can make [the Apple Watch] as good as possible than how many we'll sell," saying that even as the Watch "is incredibly mature and has gone through thousands and thousands of hours of evaluation and testing, we're still working and improving."


    Here, Ive is preparing us for low sales of the Apple Watch. His reference to "still working and improving" it is a sign that there is still much work to be done, so:


    "Watch out, Ye Early Adopters!"


    "And this watch is clearly the most personal product we've made."


    Therein lies the problem. A watch should be a personal possession. But there is only one design of the Apple Watch, so if Apple were to sell millions, you would be wearing the most impersonal watch you could imagine.


    "So there's huge virtue, I think, in keeping the packaging small: at least, it is the right choice environmentally, it's easier to move things around and you don't end up with your wardrobes full of large watch boxes that you don't use."


    Yet the Apple Watch is one of the biggest, clunkiest watches around!


    Boob, thy name is Apple post-Jobs.

    Your tears will be delicious when Apple announces they sold 15 million watches in 2015.

    Only 15 million?

    I see you've tempered your prediction of 40 million in the first year!

    That's understandable in the light of Ive's confession of modest sales.

    15 million would be a slightly disappointing success.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    I slightly agree with you. Being a mechanical engineer myself I am fascinated with mechanical watch movement and how complex it can get. That being said, you really only find that in the ridiculously expensive watches that cost as much as luxury cars. Most watches today are Quartz movement, so replacing all those watches of mine with an electronic Apple Watch won't be that big of a deal. Also, being that the Apple Watch syncs with the atomic clock makes it a much better time keeper than any mechanical watch can ever be.

    True. I always prefer alternatives to Quartz, as I don't find it that accurate. My personal wristwatch is atomic and solar powered, and my alarm clock is a vintage model with a Telechron movement, which is far more reliable and accurate than quartz models.
  • Reply 19 of 54
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,404member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RedRaider2011 View Post





    I slightly agree with you. Being a mechanical engineer myself I am fascinated with mechanical watch movement and how complex it can get. That being said, you really only find that in the ridiculously expensive watches that cost as much as luxury cars. Most watches today are Quartz movement, so replacing all those watches of mine with an electronic Apple Watch won't be that big of a deal. Also, being that the Apple Watch syncs with the atomic clock makes it a much better time keeper than any mechanical watch can ever be.

     

    Just yesterday I was taking a look at the new Masterpiece by Maurice Lacroix, and it is really cool. At the same time I have a similar feeling of "cool" regarding some of my Apple products. So, I am wondering to what extent this is just a paradigm shift, and if Spam is correct and Apple manages to establish the watch as a fashion accessory first and then catch up with functionality, this could have a big chance IMHO.

     

    Still, I do not see how the gold watch represents a good value proposition based on the rumored price range and the longlivety, or rather shortlivety, of today's battery and other tech vs. a mechanical high class watch will usually keep its value and not easily look as ridiculous as wallking around today with pre-iPhone "smartphones".  I am still thinking about the alleged lightning port, and tossing ideas in my head like "lifetime upgrades of either the intestines or the full watch around.

  • Reply 20 of 54
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,452member
    I appreciate the mechanics in my watches more than I feel I would appreaciate the electronics inside a smart watch. Let's see if that changes over time....
    Here's the thing ... What attracts watch wearers to a watch? Is it what it's capable of, or is it how it looks?

    The ?Watch is a square piece of black glass inlaid onto a featureless gold or silver box. When the display is inactive, you might as well be wearing a polished onyx stone mounted in a particularly boring bracelet.

    When I notice watches, I notice the ornate dials, intricate designs, materials, coloring, and workmanship. The ?Watch may be a fashionable smart watch, but it's hardly the stuff watch lovers like yourself are going to be attracted to. Apple presumes the watch as a replacement for the Rolexes, Citizens, and other personal expressions of style and status on their wrists. The "Edition" seems designed to express status and wealth without any of the substance a Rolex watch is otherwise revealed for -- yes this watch is a basic and featureless mass market assembly line product, but it cost a fortune.

    Will you ever learn to appreciate what it can do over its lack of substantive style?
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