Apple Express: Editor’s Letter, March 2015

On a frozen morning in mid-January, I attended a Clicks & Mortar conference in midtown Manhattan, where the keynote speaker shared some radical ideas about everybody’s favorite company:

“Apple is the best luxury brand in the world,” said Scott Galloway, founder and chairman of L2, the digital agency that organized the event. “In 2015, it will become the first $1 trillion market cap company.”

And my personal favorite: “If you’re carrying an iOS, it means you’re ­wealthier and better educated than anyone carrying Android.” (Phew!)

Galloway didn’t mince words when it came to the much-anticipated debut of the Apple Watch, due out next month (if the rumor mill is to be believed). “If you want to see someone in denial, talk to a watch executive about what Apple is going to do to their industry,” he said.

As for me, I’m taking a less alarmist view. When I head to Switzerland later this month for the Baselworld fair, I don’t expect smartwatches to top the list of concerns for the Swiss. That’s because all the talk will focus on prices—a ­reflection of the currency storm currently bearing down on Europe. News director Rob Bates does a handy job of explaining how the Swiss franc’s ­sudden appreciation is affecting the watch trade.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. For a glimpse of the sunny side of the ­industry, check out the winners of our eighth annual Jewelers’ Choice Awards. Given the popularity of opal, we weren’t surprised that a ring set with an Australian black opal from the famed deposit at Lightning Ridge won the grand prize—even less so when we learned it was designed and manufactured by the classy crew at Los Angeles–based Omi Privé (congrats!).

L2 founder Scott Galloway holds forth on Apple, luxury brands, and retail innovation.

Next year’s incarnation of the retailer-voted design competition, however, might reflect a few changes. Will we see a wearables category in 2016? Or a ­category for lab-grown diamonds? After you read contributor Martha C. White’s feature on designer collections that appeal to millennial buyers, you might even be convinced—as we’ve been—of the need for a category devoted to sustainable and eco-conscious jewelry.

“We are on the cusp of reengineering how we consume,” Galloway told the audience at the Clicks & Mortar conference. He went on to extol Amazon for its speed and relevancy, Target for its superior apps and beacon technology, Uber for dominating the peer-to-peer economy, and Macy’s for its robust ­omnichannel presence. But he saved his highest praise for Apple, saying its transformation into a luxury company would be complete with the unveiling of its watch.

“All of business comes down to two instincts: survival and propagation,” Galloway concluded.

Sounds like fighting words to me!

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