Apple and the emperor's new wearable tech

With the hiring of another executive from the fashion industry, how can Apple's sense of overall design make wearable tech attractive?

Dear emperor, what a lovely watch you have. Socratica Studios/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Can you have too much of any one logo?

Even if it's one you like, admire, and warm to? Even if it's one that you believe says more about you than you ever could?

How often do you see supposedly fashionable men and women walking down the street decked out entirely in, say, Tory Burch or Gucci?

Don't they mix it up a little, just to demonstrate their alleged individuality?

The question is important when it comes to wearable tech, the alleged next big thing. It's also important to the future of the Apple brand.

Last week, Apple hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to oversee the next evocation of its retail offering. Ahrendts is someone who believes in the power of emotion.

She is the second hire from the fashion industry, after the company hired Paul Deneve from YSL to work on "special projects."

To some extent, this suggests a certainty within Apple that its most powerful advantage still lies in design. Apple's confidence in its own taste is vast.

But when it comes to wearable tech, the jury isn't merely out. It hasn't seen too much evidence.

The braying for a technological presence on one's wrist is largely non-existent. If the Samsung Galaxy Gear is representative of the genre, then the mere fact that it only works with the Galaxy Note 3 will put off many.

The notion that this is a product in search of any obvious use (other than the ability to take slightly creepy photographs) is strong.

Which leaves us in the broad area of design.

Any supposed iWatch may have to enjoy a similar emotional appeal as a Prada clutch or a Burberry scarf -- a defining accessory that isn't necessary, but looks just so.

The danger is overkill. You put your iPhone down on the bar, you've got your iPad lurking somewhere on you too. And then you're wearing an iWatch?

That feels like the design equivalent of his-and-hers sweatshirts. It's the taste level of "Jersey Shore."

It may well be that Apple or even Google will find some simple, clever use for an iWatch that will become a signature purpose.

More likely, though, is that there will have to seem something inherently attractive and personal about it for the concept to truly take hold.

With the Emperor's new clothes, there was no there there, just as it seems with most wearable tech currently.

What emotions could an iWatch evoke for it to be something that might, say, persuade even the most pretentious to take off their Rolex and flash a little more Apple?

 

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