Apple Inc. head of design Jony Ive is settling into his position in the C-suite, but the manager is still acting as the firm’s chief linguist. Known for his almost impossible use of words like “chamfered,” Ive has always embodied the more esoteric parts of Apple’s marketing. Despite that, he has no time for “exclusive” products.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, in which Mr. Ive discussed the Apple Watch designed by Hermes, Cupertino’s Chief of design said “I’m not comfortable with words like exclusive.” Apple, he says, doesn’t even think inside those brackets. The firm is able to transcend exclusivity and offer a $1,500 Watch to everyone equally.
Ive stays in control of Apple language
It’s still not clear why Tim Cook promoted Ive to Chief Design Officer. It wasn’t a traditional promotion. Ive reigned supreme at the firm under Steve Jobs, and likely had the same privilege under Tim Cook. He may have been moved in order to hide his salary, or it may be part of his retirement package.
Whatever the reality, Ive is clearly keeping at least some of his old duties. He said that the Apple partnership with Hermes is “conspicuous and singular.” The Apple Watch Hermes puts the Apple brand firmly behind that of the luxury goods maker, and that’s something that Jony Ive thinks is worth talking about.
Mr. Ive found has appears to have found a fitting partner in, artistic director at Hermes. Mr. Dumas said, speaking of the Apple Watch Hermes, “Can you see the red in it? That’s why it feels a bit brown, but it’s gray actually. It’s always so hard to define a color.”
Mr. Ive called the iPhone 5C, which Apple discontinued on Wednesday, “beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”
Apple sells the Apple Watch
Apple is trying hard to make the Watch worth buying. The firm will soon upgrade the software on the device to Watch OS 2, giving it the power to host native apps and work more fluidly without an iPhone connection.
The Apple Watch Hermes is part of a push toward luxury at Cupertino. The firm already sells a version of the Apple Watch for $10,000, but the tie-up with a famed luxury brand may help it to improve sales.
Mr. Ive doesn’t think that there’s anything exclusive about selling a Watch for that price. In the interview with the WSJ he was quite insistent on the lack of substantial or significant different between the low priced versions of the Watch, and the Hermes $1,500 model.
“Look at this next to one of the sport collection. There’s not one that had more care invested in its designing or making,” he told the paper.
Apple doesn’t like to think of itself as a company that works on “exclusive” products. The firm tries to position its marketing around what an Apple product can do for people.
With the Apple Watch Hermes, and the other high priced versions of the wrist-bound gadget, it’s more difficult to claim that what people can do with the device is more important than the way it looks, or simply what it costs.
Prices, small or big, are by their nature exclusive. That’s the whole point. A higher price, like $1,500 for the Hermes Watch, is more exclusive than a lower one. All the rest is marketing; Jony Ive has always been good at that.