In a new interview with FastCompany, Apple chief executive sounds increasingly confident that this company has at long last nailed the wearable in the form of its Apple Watch.
“We weren’t first on the MP3 player; we weren’t first on the tablet; we weren’t first on the smartphone,” he says in a new FastCompany Q&A. “But we were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch — the first one that matters.
The Q&A is with Brent Schlender, a former Wall Street Journal and Fortune editor and reporter; and Rick Tetzeli, executive editor of Fast Company. The pair have written a new biography of Steve Jobs with extensive access to Apple insiders called, Becoming Steve Jobs.
Set to be released later this month, FastCompany has been promoting it with excerpts in recent days. While the tone of the book remains to be seen, the excerpts have sought to paint a more flattering picture of Jobs, a corrective Apple executives apparently believe was needed to Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography three years ago.
In the new Q&A, Cook describes the philosophy toward new product creation that Jobs instilled at Apple:
“When Apple looks at what categories to enter, we ask these kinds of questions: What are the primary technologies behind this?” Cook says. “What do we bring? Can we make a significant contribution to society with this? If we can’t, and if we can’t own the key technologies, we don’t do it. That philosophy comes directly from him and it still very much permeates the place. I hope that it always will.”
Cook says that philosophy led the company to develop the Apple Watch.
“You look at the watch, and the primary technologies are software and the UI [user interface]. You’re working with a small screen, so you have to invent new ways for input,” he says. “Most of the companies who have done smartwatches haven’t thought that through, so they’re still using pinch-to-zoom and other gestures that we created for the iPhone.”
Finally, Cook sought to tamp down expectations for how many Apple Watch’s the company would sell in the first year.
“On the watch we haven’t set a number,” he said. “The watch needs the iPhone 5, 6, or 6 Plus to work, which creates a ceiling. But I think it’s going to do well. I’m excited about it. I’ve been using it every day and I don’t want to be without it.”