Wozniak Says Apple Not Made For $17,000 Watches

steve wozniak
By Nichollas Harrison [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Apple co-founder spoke at the Automate/Promat Show in Chicago yesterday, speaking out on the change in direction that the high-end wearable marks for the company.

Troubled by Apple’s new direction

Wozniak claims that Apple’s move into expensive wearables is not consistent with the ideas that the company used to have. “It didn’t seem like the company we started,” he said. “That’s not the Apple that moved the world forward.”

The main point of contention for Wozniak is the top-of-the-range Apple Watch Edition. He appeared to dismiss the Apple Watch entirely, calling it a “luxury fitness band” that did nothing to change the fact that he had become “real negative on smartwatches,” but later performed a swift u-turn and called the Watch a “little piece of art.”

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Despite his apparent appreciation for the new wearable, his affection does not extend to the pricier models. “I’m going to buy the Apple Watch,” he told the crowd, but later added that he would only buy “the cheapest one.”

Tech criticism of Apple Watch pricing structure

The point Wozniak makes is one that we are likely to hear over and over again: it’s not worth paying more than $349 for the basic Apple Watch because there is no difference in specs compared to the more expensive models, such as the $10,000 gold-plated version.

As if to confirm his point, Wozniak said that the only difference between the $10,000 and $17,000 versions was the band. Justifying the price tags in terms of engineering is incongruous with Apple’s fashion-conscious strategy for the Apple Watch, and it seems Wozniak disagrees with the direction that the company is moving in.

Although he did later say that we have “seen a lot of really good things” from Apple since the tragic death of Steve Jobs, such as iPhones with bigger screens, charitable donations and greater commitment to diversity in the workforce, he later added “that’s not to say everything I’d say about Tim Cook is positive.”

Wozniak may still see Apple as simply a technology company,but it appears that Tim Cook is attempting to turn it into a luxury brand at the same time. If the Apple Watch sells well, especially the higher-end versions, then Cook may be justified in taking the new direction that he has. If not, Wozniak probably will not think twice about telling him what a mistake it was.