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Jony Ive's internal battle that almost killed the Apple Watch

Apple’s first wearable -- the Apple Watch -- which is scheduled to be launched in April this year is not the first smartwatch in the market. Google’s Android Wear has already been in the market fo

apple-iwatch-unveiled

Apple’s first wearable — the Apple Watch — which is scheduled to be launched in April this year is not the first smartwatch in the market. Google’s Android Wear has already been in the market for a year now, and Pebble and Samsung have also made a number of smartwatches in the last two years. But a New Yorker profile on Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief reveals that the company started working on the Watch as early as 2011.

So what took it so long? If you may ask. A lot of internal debate and disagreement, the interview reveals. The watch was conceived “close to Steve’s death,” according to Ive. After Jobs’ death, the executives were “eager to act, in anticipation of grief, market upheaval, and skeptical press.” Cook said that by this time the company was looking at many different products, including new iPhones that had screen size from 4-inch to 6 inches, and iPad mini, and the Watch was one of them.

Ive, who is a watch collector, began discussing about the Watch’s design with a number of experts including Marc Newson, the Australian designer who had previously worked on timepieces for other companies and was hired by Apple last year.

There are instances where it is felt that Cook let Jony Ive continue with the Watch because he wanted Ive to stay at the company. “I had wondered if the watch project, and Ive’s software role, could be seen as a way for Apple to thank and secure Ive,” the interviewer Ian Parker contemplates.

Ive had always been interested in doing luxurious products. But he had to make a compelling case before the company. Bob Mansfield, hardware engineer at Apple who was previously a Senior VP of Technologies at the company recalls “a lot of resistance,” in the Watch development.

Among many aspects, Apple executives weren’t confident about the right way to display the Watch in stores. The basic variant of the Watch costs $349, while the highest tier could go as up as $4,000. Mansfield said that Apple was worried that it would create a divide between wealthy and less wealthy customers.

It wasn’t until 2013, when everyone at Apple nodded to Ive and the company started making high-level appointments. In the spree of hiring, the company roped in Angela Ahrendts, the former C.E.O. of Burberry, and Paul Deneve, the former CEO of the Yves Saint Laurent Group, and Patrick Pruniaux from TAG Heuer.

  • Published Date: February 18, 2015 6:40 PM IST