Apple Watch doesn't need to be first, just memorable, Cook says

Apple's approaching the smartwatch market the same way it did MP3 players

Apple says it's approaching the smartwatch market with the same strategy it used to dominate the MP3 player space: Make memorable products that are easy to use.

Apple wasn't the first company to make MP3 players, CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco. But before Apple came out with the iPod, MP3 players were known for clunky user interfaces that people found too cumbersome to use.

Cook sees parallels to the smartwatch space, where no device stands out. The Apple Watch, he said, will change people's lives.

"The tablet business was like this, too. There was nothing Earth-shattering," Cook said during a session at the conference, which was also webcast.

The Apple Watch's most impressive feature is its versatility, said Cook, who wears his watch daily. People will have their favorite Apple Watch apps, he said.

Cook also talked about the IBM-Apple partnership, saying the deal plays to each company's strengths. Apple lacked enterprise experience and the know-how to develop software for jobs in specific industries. IBM was well versed in both of these areas, but didn't make devices that would allow workers to become more mobile.

"The truth is, enterprise has not moved to mobility as consumers have. There's still a lot of people stuck at their desk," Cook said.

Competition from the Android OS doesn't concern Cook.

"We've always believed that our role in life is to make the best, not the most," he said, an oblique reference to the fact that Android appears on more smartphones than Apple's iOS.

Apple has faced Microsoft in the PC space and went up against Nokia and Blackberry in the smartphone market, he added. Sometimes the best product costs more money, and people are willing to pay a premium for Apple products, Cook said.

"As long as we can make great products, there's a good market for us," Cook said, when asked if iPhone sales can continue to soar. Last quarter Apple reported that it sold a record 74.5 million iPhones.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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