The Apple Watch is the first major new Apple product line to be launched under Tim Cook, but according to Apple analyst Tim Bajarin (who, unlike many Apple commentators, actually knows a lot of the people he writes about), it’s a product which owes a tremendous amount to Steve Jobs and his experiences.
Here’s how Bajarin explains it:
“I recently spent time with Apple executives involved with the Watch. I asked them to explain the real motivation for creating the device. Although Apple has made fashion and design a key cornerstone of its existence, it turns out that this was not at the heart of why they created this product.
The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs developed pancreatic cancer in 2004. He then spent a great deal of time with doctors and the healthcare system until his death in 2011. While that personal health journey had a great impact on Jobs personally, it turns out that it affected Apple’s top management, too. During this time, Jobs discovered how disjointed the healthcare system can be. He took on the task of trying to bring some digital order to various aspects of the healthcare system, especially the connection between patients, their data, and their healthcare providers …
I believe Apple is on a mission to improve the overall health of its customers as well as that of the healthcare system, a task Jobs gave them before he died. And while Apple’s products define Jobs’ legacy, it may turn out that his and Apple’s greatest contribution may be to bring greater order to the fragmented healthcare world.”
Bajarin admits that he’s not sure that Jobs ever saw early-stage Apple Watch concepts — and considering that the device shipped three-and-a-half years after he died and four after he stepped down as CEO, that seems a safe enough bet. A Wired profile of Jony Ive, Alan Dye, and the creation of the Apple Watch previously claimed that Apple didn’t start serious work on the Apple Watch until after Jobs’ death in October 2011.
It’s also a safe bet that, given how Jobs is basically the patron saint of innovative technology, every new Apple product line in the coming decades will be tied to Apple’s legendary co-founder in at least one version of the origin story. (Here, for example, is something about how Jobs basically invented the Apple Car.)
But the idea that the ultra-personal products Jobs created during his time at Apple are semi-autobiographical is one I’ve always found fascinating. He was certainly hands-on with his products and, while he was creating devices aimed at what consumers wanted, he also frequently cast himself and others at Apple as artists.
There’s also something kind of sweet about the idea that, while Apple was unable to save the life of Steve, his death helped push the company he created to embrace the subject of mobile health — not just through the life-saving Apple Watch but also other initiatives like ResearchKit and the recently-launched CareKit.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.