Apple announced on Monday that it is selling a $17,000 gold watch, no different in technology from a $349 Sport model watch they are also selling.
The tech world is of a divided mind on the issue. Paul Graham’s tweet screen-captured above is my favorite comment.
I lump the gold watch decision in with the decision to buy Beats. Beats are notoriously not the best headphone technology on the market, but they are an iconic status symbol in our modern times, and will likely be collectible similar to how people collect original Jordans* or (coming full circle) Rolexes.
This is the new Apple. Status symbol first, technology company second.
Which isn’t a bad business decision. Companies that make symbols tend to last much longer than companies that live and die on pushing technological boundaries. Tech is far too tumultuous; symbols is the kind of business Warren Buffet can get behind (Coca-Cola, American Express, IBM).
But it’s a decision that leaves the geeks behind. It’s a decision that leaves the Steve Jobs of old behind, the one that romanced Sculley away from Pepsi.
* If I recall correctly, I believe I’m kindly borrowing the Jordans similarity from Brian Watson (ex-USV, now VSCO).