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Apple co-founder Wozniak skeptical on smartwatches, Google Glass

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak says he is no fan of smartwatches and believes Google Glass will fail as he cautioned not to expect the company he co-founded, Apple, to always lead the way into new technologies.

The American, who quit Apple in 1987 — 12 years after creating the technology giant with the late Steve Jobs — made the comments as he took up Australian residency, with a view to living Down Under permanently.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review on Friday, he also praised current Apple chief executive Tim Cook for breaking free from Jobs’s “dogma” by allowing a big-screen iPhone to be made.

“I really admire Tim Cook and admire that they broke a dogma that had come from Steve Jobs, which was about only having small phones,” he said.

“The iPhone originally made it because it looked like a big phone, and then, when rival phones looked bigger than Apple’s they continued to say ‘we are right’.

“That was corporate culture getting in the way of expansion… I think that maybe came from Steve Jobs not wanting somebody to say something he didn’t create was better.”

Wozniak, who has a son living in Sydney and said he one day wants to be able to say “I lived and died an Australian”, buys all the latest devices from a variety of tech companies to form his own views on what is working best.

Apple has entered the smartwatch market much later than players such as Sony, Samsung, and LG, and Wozniak cautioned industry watchers not to expect the company to always lead the way.

“Everyone expects that Apple is going to have more of these huge new categories of products introduced all the time because that is what they did in the past, but those ideas do not come along very often,” he said.

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Wozniak, who remains on the Apple payroll, is not a big fan of smartwatches, saying no company has yet figured out a compelling reason for them to exist.

“I bought a few of the early smartwatches, including Samsung’s, and they were so disappointing,” he said.

“I took them off because they were so much worse than the phone that’s right in my pocket already.

“Like Apple did with smartphones, one company may point the right way to a smart and useful watch, but it shouldn’t be a replacement for what the phone does, and it should have an unbelievable and fun feeling when you use it.”

Wozniak is also pessimistic about Google’s smart glasses — technology which provides online access via a tiny screen attached to a spectacle frame.

“When I see people wearing it, I think they are cool because they are brave enough to play with the future with a device that makes no sense in terms of what it does for what it costs,” he said.

“In my mind, it is a great product that will not succeed, just like many other great products that didn’t succeed.”

Google Glass became available in the United States in May to anyone with US$1500 to spare.

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