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Interview: Ken Segall

Peter Roper | Feb. 24, 2016
This wide-ranging interview with Ken Segall covers the insights on simplicity discovered while researching his second book and his concept of ‘dual DNA’ that stops simplicity being the default way of doing business… plus his thoughts on post-Jobs Apple and the rumoured car.

One of the criticisms of the watch is that it's so un-Steve like. There are 18 models, and Steve would have just done one. In fact, somebody wrote an article after that presentation, 'How Steve Jobs would have introduced the Apple Watch' and he had a whole script for it, a whole thing, and it was all about one product. Everybody was going to wear the same watch.

I think that's really misunderstanding what Apple is about. I think what they do is they tap each product as if it's a brand new thing that they don't know anything about. They study it, and one of the most obvious things about watches, if you go to any department store, there are thousands of them.

It is a fashion item, so they decided early on that they've got to get fashion people in there. They hired fashion people. Samsung was so thrilled to come up with a watch before Apple, that they did the obvious, they just shrunk the phone down onto the wrist, and made one model and that was it.

I think Apple went ahead and realised it is a very different thing. 'We can't just have one thing and everybody will wear it.' That's one of the basic decisions about it. The digital crown is different to Samsung. Apple really thought about the size of the screen and how you might want to control it.

That, to me, was a very Apple like product. It was what I love about Apple, that they would attack a category as if they had no idea. This brand new thing, let's learn about it and really think about what human beings would respond to.

Is the willingness to criticise Apple a post-Jobs thing?

Exactly what I was going to say. I think what it boils down to is Steve isn't here. I think it shows the power of Steve, but everyone seems to believe, no matter how well Apple does, that Steve is not there, so it can't really be good. I don't know if people will ever get over that.

I hate to say it, it gets a little tricky because I think that myself when I look at the advertising. The way they're creating this stuff, they're doing more internally now, and they have a lot of teams competing with each other, and that's just not the way Steve did it.

It was like, 'Here's a small group of people I trust. Do some work. If I don't like it, I'll tell you, then you do some more work, but it's your responsibility, and if you can't do this well, then I'm going to have to fire you.' He trusted us to do it, and we did it.


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