Here are just a few of the stories we covered during the week that was.
The age of wearables
Soon after Cupertino announced the Apple Watch in September, I suggested five possible reasons the wearable device wasn’t coming until “early 2015.”
Do you know what most people in the United States are doing in January and February? They are watching a lot of television.
During the first few weeks of 2015, Americans will be watching the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, College Football Playoff, Grammy Awards, Golden Globes, and Academy Awards.
Apple may have always planned to use each of these events to promote the Apple Watch. Recall that the first iPhone ad aired during the 2007 Academy Awards broadcast, even though the handset wasn’t released until June.
This continued promotion was on full display this week. Once again, it was Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, who moved the promotion forward.
Accepting an award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Ive said he believes with “every bone in his body” that the forthcoming Apple Watch is going to help establish a new category of computing device.
Calling the Apple Watch design process “difficult and humbling,” Ive said that there were “cultural, historical implementation and expectations” to keep in mind.
He also noted that “creating a ‘wearable’ device raises new expectations from consumers.”
As The Wall Street Journal highlighted:
“As soon as something is worn, we have expectations of choice,” said Ive. Only “in prison,” he joked, do people all wear the same thing.”
Competitors make moves
As the world waits for Apple’s watch to arrive, competitors are announcing their own products.
The Microsoft Band is priced at $199 and is available now at Microsoft’s brick-and-mortar and online stores.
Microsoft notes “The band has 10 sensors to track the usual things like heart rate as well as more novel detectors, including a UV sensor for sun exposure and a galvanic skin response measurement which can help identify stress.”
Fitbit officially announced a trio of new fitness trackers – the Charge, Charge HR, and Surge.
Available early next year, the Surge is being described as a “fitness super watch.” Along with GPS functionality and heart rate tracking, it offers a number of smart watch functionalities like the Apple Watch.
Tim Cook comes out
Early in the week, the Apple CEO Tim Cook was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor at the Alabama State Capital. During his acceptance speech, Cook noted that his home state had a long way to go before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of equality is fully realized.
As Aldrin Calimlim reported:
“As a state, we took too long to take steps toward equality and once we began our progress was too slow,” he said. “Too slow on equality for African Americans. Too slow on interracial marriage, which was only legalized 14 years ago.”
Second, Cook said that progress has also been slow in promoting equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, noting that, “Under the law, citizens of Alabama can still be fired based on their sexual orientation.”
A few days later, Cook said “I’m proud to be gay.”
The Apple CEO never hid his sexual orientation from those around him, noting “I actually don’t think it is going to be very big news within Apple. As he says in the piece, plenty of people know that he is gay. It’s never been a big deal. No one has ever treated him or he’s never detected being treated any differently. Within Apple there will be a lot of people who will be proud of him and happy for him, and then by 9:05 go back to the work they have to do.”
So why go public?
Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.
At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.
Here’s what some in the blogosphere is saying about Cook’s announcement:
In “Thank You, Tim Cook,” TechCrunch’s Casey Newton said “Someday, maybe someday soon, we’ll hear about how Cook’s essay today helped someone there through a difficult time. And then we’ll hear it again, and again, and again.”
Re/Code’s Kara Swisher noted:
In a speech at Auburn University, his alma mater, at the end of last year, he spoke on the issue of human rights, and added his own experience to the mix: “Since these early days, I have seen and have experienced many types of discrimination, and all of them were rooted in the fear of people that were different than the majority.”
When he said that, I was struck by it immediately, and thought: He’s going to come out soon.
The Daring Fireball’s John Gruber concludes: “If you don’t think Tim Cook’s coming out yesterday matters, that it’s not worth savoring and celebrating, you are mistaken.”
Put a fork in it, Walmart
It wasn’t a good week for the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a consortium of companies led by Walmart that hope to compete with Apple Pay with its own mobile payment system called CurrentC.
That sound you’re hearing is MCX dying on the vine.
Some of our most popular articles from the past week are as follows:
- Trent Reznor is working on a secret music delivery project for Apple
- Microsoft is finally going to update Office for Mac, but not until the second half of 2015
- Op-Ed: How Apple could lift iTunes music sales in 1 simple step
- Seth Rogen will play Steve Wozniak in upcoming Steve Jobs biopic with Christian Bale
Main image: Minh Uong/The New York Times