Everyone knows about Apple, the tech behemoth responsible for the Mac and everything i. The names Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, and Jony Ive roll off the tongues of both bulls and bears alike with ease and regularity. What most people don’t realize is that Apple’s MVP of the moment is none of these men, Apple’s most valuable person of the present is a woman. The watch, and to a large degree Apple’s immediate future, rests in the talented hands of Angela Ahrendts. When Apple pilfered her to become Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores she was CEO of Burberry in England and already sported an impressive list of accolades:
Marketing and Merchandising degree Ball State University, 2010 Honorary Doctorate
2000 Crain’s New York Rising Stars 40 under 40
2010 CNBC European Business Leader of the Future
2010, 2011 Financial Times Top 50 Women in World Business
2010, 2011, 2013 Fortune’s Businesspeople of the Year
2013 ranked #4 Fortune’s top people in business
2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World
2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Fortunes 50 Most Powerful Women in Business
Ahrendts held leadership positions at Liz Claiborne, Henri Bendel and Donna Karan International before becoming CEO of Burberry in 2006 where she is credited with turning around the aging British icon while turning it into a global luxury fashion brand. Tripling revenues to 300 billion and surging the stock value 300% speaks for itself. Apple regards the first female executive on Tim Cooks’ team so highly they offered to make Ahrendts whole on her Burberry deal. This year Tim Cook is making a little over nine million while Angela Ahrendts will receive 73.4 million in cash and stock.
Why would Apple spend so much money to bring someone from the world of fashion to the world of tech? The obvious answer is the watch. Wearables are as much fashion as they are tech and Cooks’ Apple team knows in order to really make it big the watch needs to be seen as fashionable. This is where Ahrendts will shine. She took an over licensed watered down Burberry product and returned an air of exclusivity to it, and that air of exclusivity will be her ultimate goal with the watch. Ahrendts job is to change the conversation from “who will buy the watch” to “which one will they buy the most”, and I believe she will be outrageously successful.
The questions being thrown around regarding the watch all imply a lack of understanding; Why would you want one, what will it do, how long will the battery last, etc. Apple and Ahrendts know the challenges ahead and I believe are uniquely prepared to meet them. Given Ahrendts background in fashion sales and marketing and experience building a brand I am sure you will see the watch available in many stores you never dreamed of spying an Apple product, jewelers are most likely one example. Once it attains critical mass, the point where everyone has to have one simply because everyone they know already has one, it will become an unstoppable FASHION trend.
The ability to accomplish this extraordinary feat lies exclusively in the talented hands of Angela Ahrendts, and she will not fail. The Apple decision to hire a fashion talent and market the product beyond traditional tech venues will play a critical role in making this product launch far more successful than it could have been otherwise. And one more thing, (couldn’t resist), I believe Apple will more than deliver on the apps front. Well done team Angela, team Tim, team Jony, and of course Team Apple as a whole.
Disclosure: The author owns Apple stock (happily!)