The last several days I’ve been reading Jony Ive’s book titled “Make Something Wonderful,” which encompasses a vast array of Steve Jobs’ correspondences, speeches, and quotations throughout the years. Although Apple hasn’t always adhered to Jobs’ design principles or decisions (take the Apple Pencil, for example), pondering WWSD (What Would Steve Do?) is a reasonable approach for evaluating the choices Apple has been making since Jobs’ death. There couldn’t be a more fitting time to read this book than in the aftermath of the Vision Pro announcement last week.
During Musings #1 – #5 I wrote about the Vision Pro’s adoption prospects, its price point, what market Apple is going after, and what the announcement itself marks beyond just the release of a new device. I took a deep dive into the EyeSight feature and why it could be particularly impacting on adoption and use. During the second (and final) week of these Musings, I plan to address where I think the conversation will go during the next few months leading right up to, and including, the delivery of the Vision Pro early next year.
I think it’s important to consider this moment in light of previous eagerly anticipated Apple hardware releases. We’ve all seen a barrage of Vision Pro reviews from both the technology and mainstream press. Stories have included review excerpts from back in 2007 both trashing and praising the iPhone. An especially ill-fated comment was Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer’s: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Reviews of the Apple Watch release in 2015 reveal significant skepticism. It’s pretty much true of every major hardware release from Apple. Even the wildly successful iPod wasn’t spared —people complained about there being no FM tuner, about how it could only work with Macs, about its price ($399), no ability to record, and on and on.
As I was reading these and other reviews, the greatest insight for me came from Lev Grossman. Writing for Time Magazine on June 30, 2007, Grossman wrote: “Look at the iPods of five years ago. That monochrome interface! That clunky moving touchwheel! They look like something a caveman whittled out of a piece of flint using another piece of flint. Now imagine something that’s going to make the iPhone look like that. You’ll have one in a few years, and it’ll be cheaper, too. If you’re not ready to think different, then think ahead.” That connotes a different vision than simply, “things will get better each year.” Contemplating just how rudimentary early releases are readies us for what will almost certainly be mind-blowing improvements in the coming years. So why adopt early if such improvements are coming? I will address in tomorrow’s Musing.
Oh … I almost forgot …. if you’d like a free download yourself of the Jony Ive book, click here.