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Wozniak: I desperately want an Apple Watch

Apple co-founder makes star appearance at Dubai-hosted Gartner Symposium

Woz: I love to buy all the technology I can and play with it.
Woz: I love to buy all the technology I can and play with it.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak gave his thoughts on the Apple Watch in a packed auditorium in Dubai this morning, criticising the price tag, but still declaring it the only smartwatch he was interested in buying.

“It’s hard for me to pick out which one I want and how to get it, but I do want one, desperately,” said Wozniak, during an on-stage Q&A with David Willis, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst, during the company’s Symposium at the Madinat Arena.

Wozniak, known affectionately as “Woz” to a legion of fans, is now Chief Scientist for solid-state storage solutions-provider, Fusion-IO, but he also remains, technically, an employee of Apple, the company he founded with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne in 1976. As such, he told the audience, he gets a 50% discount on the Apple Watch.

“The Apple Watch, I haven’t yet ordered,” he said. “I would love to get to the mall and buy one. I was busy travelling when it was released. Then Apple had a deal where you could get half off and believe it or not, I’m an employee and I can get half off, but I have to go through an internal network that I don’t know how to operate right now.”

Wozniak single-handedly designed the Apple I and Apple II and his love of technology leads him to buy and try a range of devices.

“I love to buy all the technology I can and play with it, because you don’t really learn about something by reading about the specs and what people say about it,” he said. “No, you hold it in your hand, you use it and you say, ‘this works well, or it works lousy.’”

When it comes to smartwatches, Woz is looking for something that adds an experience beyond fashion and time-telling.

“I have continually worn a watch and I wear it to see the time of day, because the time of day is so important to me and I don’t want to pull my iPhone out of my pocket, and I’m not one of those people who carries [my iPhone] around everywhere I go looking at it. So I’m a subject for smartwatches and I’ve tried a few, but they disappointed me. Some of them you couldn’t hear unless you held it up to your ear. You could ask it a question, but most of the answers from Siri would come back on the phone in your pocket.”

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But Wozniak was critical of Cupertino’s pricing strategy for the Watch, which discriminated based not on features, but on aesthetics.

“The pricing bothers me, because there are 20 Apple Watches,” he said. “The middle range has the stainless steel case and the sapphire [crystal display] and there 20 of them from $500 up to $1,100; the only difference is the band. Apple is selling bands. It’s not exactly the company we started, selling technology and moving things forward. But maybe Apple’s [moving] into the fashion [business]. At least we have a good brand.”

Wozniak suggested that the Watch’s success would rest upon it delivering everyday functions that were already extant in the iPhone. Offering those operations on a wrist-mounted device would eliminate the need to reach for a smartphone, he said.  

“There are a lot of things that I do with my iPhone in my life that a Watch would be much more convenient for,” he said. “I fly a lot, and checking into airports now, you use your phone as your boarding pass. And it’s very convenient. And yet I want to do it with my wrist; I want to see if that’s more convenient. I use Apple Pay in the countries where it works. You hold up the phone with your finger on it and it beeps; it pays. You don’t have to open it up, unlock the phone, run an app and then type in a PIN number like you do with Google Wallet, so I really want to see if the Apple Watch works for that.

"And maybe it will bring other things into my life. At least I’ll be able to see the time.”

 

ITP.net sat down with Steve Wozniak backstage at the Gartner Symposium. Keep your eyes peeled for the full interview, where Woz gives his thoughts on privacy, security, artificial intelligence and Edward Snowden.