Mon, Dec 22, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Wozniak skeptical of wearables

ETERNAL LUXURY:New Tag Heuer chief executive Jean-Claude Biver, an industry legend, said the watchmaker will make smartwatches only if their’s are the best

AFP, SYDNEY and LA CHAUX-DE-FONDS, Switzerland

Steve Wozniak says he is no fan of smartwatches and believes Google Glass will fail, as he cautioned not to expect the company he cofounded, Apple Inc, to always lead the way into new technologies.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review on Friday, Wozniak also praised current Apple chief executive Tim Cook for breaking free from Jobs’ “dogma” by allowing a big-screen iPhone to be made.

“I really admire Tim Cook and admire that they broke a dogma that had come from Steve Jobs, which was about only having small phones,” he said. “The iPhone originally made it because it looked like a big phone, and then, when rival phones looked bigger than Apple’s, they continued to say ‘we are right.’”

“That was corporate culture getting in the way of expansion... I think that maybe came from Steve Jobs not wanting somebody to say something he didn’t create was better,” Wozniak said.

Apple has entered the smartwatch market much later than players such as Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Co, and Wozniak cautioned industry watchers not to expect the company to always lead the way.

“Everyone expects that Apple is going to have more of these huge new categories of products introduced all the time because that is what they did in the past, but those ideas do not come along very often,” he said.

Wozniak, who remains on the Apple payroll, is not a big fan of smartwatches, saying no company has yet figured out a compelling reason for them to exist.

“I bought a few of the early smartwatches, including Samsung’s, and they were so disappointing,” he said. “I took them off because they were so much worse than the phone that’s right in my pocket already.”

“Like Apple did with smartphones, one company may point the right way to a smart and useful watch, but it shouldn’t be a replacement for what the phone does, and it should have an unbelievable and fun feeling when you use it,” Wozniak said.

Wozniak is also pessimistic about Google’s smart glasses — technology which provides online access via a tiny screen attached to a spectacle frame. Google Glass became available in the US in May.

“When I see people wearing it, I think they are cool because they are brave enough to play with the future with a device that makes no sense in terms of what it does for what it costs,” he said. “In my mind, it is a great product that will not succeed, just like many other great products that didn’t succeed.”

However, the new chief executive of luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer said on Tuesday that a smartwatch might have a place in his firm’s lineup after all.

“Initially, we were all a bit reticent,” Jean-Claude Biver told reporters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Swiss city at the center of the watchmaking industry.

However, he insisted that any new technology would not dilute the company’s reputation for making luxury goods that last.

“We will only make smartwatches if we are the best, different and unique,” he said.

Biver, an industry legend who leads the watch division of Tag Heuer’s owners LVMH, was appointed to head the Swiss brand on an interim basis last week following the departure of Stephane Linder.

He refused to divulge what Tag Heuer was planning, but said it would divide its research and development department so that one side could focus on technological innovation.

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