I recently had the chance to sit down with Tim Cook at Apple’s lush Dudley headquarters and talk about Apple’s next smash hit product, the Apple Watch.
Jamiepbarker: Hi Tim, thanks for taking the time to see me. Things must be manic with the key-note and launch now that Steve Jobs is dead.
Tim Cook: Thanks, yeah, it has been manic but we here at Apple are super excited about the Watch.
JPB: Good for you! I must say you’re handling the pressure very well. You haven’t completely fucked Apple up and for that you deserve kudos.
JPB: Maybe Jobs wasn’t so special after all?
JPB: *Laughter* What aspect of it is most exciting to you personally? I’m talking about the Watch now. The Apple Watch.
TC: That’s a great qu-
JPB: Top Cat!
JPB: Your initials! Hey TC, here comes Officer Dibble! Hey T.C!
TC: Yeah, so for me, personally, the most exciting outcome we could hope for, with the Watch, is the possibility it might just improve people’s, well… well-being? Their actual life. We will… well, I should say we could improve that with the Watch. That’s the dream in a nutshell.
JPB: A pretty bold claim?
TC: No, it is, I get that. But take our health tracki-
JPB: Sorry, I’m going to have to stop you there.
TC: But the m-
JPB: Buh buh buh buh! Shush! Listen, you might learn something. I recently… well, it was a while ago now but I interviewed Mark Parker from Nike about the Fuelband.
TC: Fuelband? What’s that then? Never even heard of that.
JPB: Well, exactly, it was this shitty plastic thing a few simpletons bought, hoping it was going to make them healthier.
TC: Well I guess, being Nike, they were going for more of a sports track-
JPB: Nope, their thing tracked fatsos just walking around. Just like you want to.
TC: Well, our Watch is so much more than a simple activity tracker. For example, a lot of people now spend so much time sitting down. And people are getting more sedentary, that’s a fact. Now with the Watch it will monitor you and if you’ve been sat down for an hour it will prompt you to get up.
TC: Why? Because just increasing your activity. Even just standing up can improve your overall fitness.
JPB: No it can’t.
TC: Yeah, it can, we’ve done-
JPB: Nah, nah, nah, no fucking way can standing up once an hour do shit for you. Fat people already stand up sometimes.
TC: Yeah but the Watch will reward you.
JPB: How exactly?
TC: How? It will give you a ‘well done’ message.
JPB: For standing up?
TC: Well… yeah.
JPB: So, and let me get this straight. People who stand upright once an hour get a reward?
JPB: Does that not suggest to these slobs that they’ve done something good? Will they not just sit back down and reach for the Maltesers?
TC: They have to move around a bit too.
JPB: For what, a more encouraging message?
JPB: You’re a disgusting greasy piece of shit! Go for a run! That’s what I’d have my watch saying to people, not rewarding them for standing up. Jesus fucking Christ, you know?
TC: Well *laughter* as much as I suspect that you’re a terrific businessman I’m going to go with my gut on this one. It’s served me well so far.
JPB: True but personally I think It’s a waste of time. Unhealthy people aren’t unhealthy because they didn’t have a Watch telling them not to be unhealthy. They’re unhealthy because they sit looking at their computers and phones all day, that and they don’t run enough.
TC: Okay, well I’m glad you brought that up. The mindless staring at screens. On the one hand you’re dismissing any potential health benefits, wrongly, in my opinion, but moving on t-
JPB: There are no health benefits. The most basic watch has a timer but people don’t time themselves doing stuff.
TC: Okay, will you let me finish a sente-
TC: Thank you, now, be that as it ma-
JPB: You’re welcome.
JPB: No, go on, that was a joke.
TC: Well, be that as it may another aim we have for the Watch is for it to be something that could actually reduce time spent looking at your phone or your crystal clear Retina display. Example. You can see notifications and decide if you want to get your phone out.
JPB: Yeah, because getting your phone out could disturb all your sitting there not standing up!
TC: You can book a taxi with it.
JPB: Can you play Angry Birds on it?
JPB: Does it tell the time?
TC: Sure does.
JPB: I’ve heard grumbles about the battery life.
TC: With all these devices, particularly new ones, it’s always a compromise between battery life and performance. We feel we’ve hit a nice medium. You’ll get a full uninterrupted day’s use out of a fully charged Watch. People are used to charging-
JPB: I heard eighteen hours?
TC: That’s right, a full day.
JPB: There are twenty-four hours in a day.
TC: You’re including night in that. Days vary, they’re longer in the Summer but they’re never longer than eighteen.
JPB: Well, yeah, but sometimes people are awake at night.
TC: That’s true, that’s very true and those people haven’t been forgotten. We have something for night owls. It’s called Another Watch.
JPB: Another Watch? Two Watches.
TC: Another Watch.
JPB: Another Watch?
TC: Then you’ve got all your bases covered.
JPB: I can’t argue with that. Finally there’s quite a spread in the pricing, from £300 for the cheapo basic model for losers right up to £8000 for people who just appreciate the finer things in life. Like Hector Riva.
TC: That’s right and that’s quite deliberate. Here at Apple we like to think that our devices carry a certain status. A certain kudos. You’ve got an iPhone 6 and you can rest assured that for a year nobody on Planet Earth will have a better phone than you. Nobody. Not even me. I have the same phone as my secretary. You know? How must that make her feel?
JPB: Like a million dollars. Of course, I get that.
TC: Now with watches, well, they were already status symbols. You could already buy a watch that would impress the shit out of people. My secretary is never going to have the same watch as David Beckham, never is a billion years. David Beckham wouldn’t be seen dead with the same watch as her. He didn’t have such a terrific career at football so he could end up wearing a watch that just anybody could buy. He doesn’t drive a Mini Metro, you know?
JPB: He drives supercars.
TC: He sure does. He drives supercars and he wants a super watch. So we’ve made our top of the range Watch out of reach of most people. Only the very best people can afford it.
JPB: See, but doesn’t that go against the whole ethos here at Apple? That even life’s losers can have the best of something? They can have the best phone. The best lap-top if they get it from a catalogue. They can’t have the best Watch. Isn’t that a problem?
JPB: Like those cheap iPhones, the coloured ones, they didn’t sell because just getting one out in public would show people you didn’t have the best phone. You have the worst new iPhone. You were lame. Subhuman almost.
TC: Sure, but with the… See the Watch is for… customisable. It’s fully-
JPB: You’ve fucked up, haven’t you?
TC: You know what? I think we might have done. *laughter*
JPB: *Laughter* What are you going to do now?
TC: Gonna scrap the whole project. Jamie, no shit, you just saved Apple.
JPB: Hey, no biggie.
TC: Yes biggie! You’ve got to let me give you something.
JPB: Nah, it’s fine.
TC: Take this.
Tim Cook handed me one of the expensive Watches. The gold one. It was fucking hideous.
JPB: Erm thanks.
TC: No, thank you!
Outside the offices I held it up at passing taxis but nothing happened. So I walked back to the hotel.