What Apple should look for in its Apple Watch evangelist

Shane Schick

Call me crazy, but I thought Apple already had an evangelist for its forthcoming Apple Watch, and his name is Jony Ive.

In case you missed it, the grand unveiling of the smart watch that took place during the event that also marked the debut of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus featured a lengthy video introduction by Ive, Apple's star designer. Over the course of the clip, Ive took great pains to describe his philosophy behind the Apple Watch, including its "digital crown," sounding as though he was smiling throughout the entire thing. Nonetheless, the company is looking to hire someone to take Ive's show on the road.

"As a member of Apple's Technology Evangelism team you'll work closely with 3rd party developers to help them build platform differentiating, next generation apps for iOS, with a primary focus on Apple Watch apps," the job posting says, adding the ideal candidate will be an "iOS development expert."

Evangelist jobs are nothing new in Silicon Valley, of course. However, it's interesting that Apple not only felt it needs someone dedicated to its first wearable technology, but that it didn't immediately have someone inside its existing product marketing team who was gunning for the opportunity. Is it possible that developers aren't the only ones who may need convincing that the Apple Watch is a sure-fire winner? 

Perhaps the issue is that--at least based on conversations I've had with a handful of developers so far--no one is making the Apple Watch a huge priority yet. This is probably true of many wearable devices, though, particularly since so many of them, the Apple Watch included, are "companion" devices that require a smartphone to be part of the experience. The trick for Apple's smart watch evangelist will be to not only ensure that an Apple Watch app becomes an extension of how they develop and conceive iOS projects in general, but that they don't treat it as an unimportant afterthought. 

To that end, a great Apple Watch evangelist will not only work to explain the art of the possible with a wearable device, but offer insights into how it can be used to address key developer pain points around discoverability, engagement and (not coincidentally), monetization. Too many times when new hardware concepts, mobile OSes or platform tools are launched, companies focus largely on how the world's biggest companies or brands have already adopted them. In this case, it will be interesting to see to what extent the Apple Watch evangelist focuses his or her attention on indie developers or smaller studios. If so, the result could be a validation not only for the Apple Watch itself but perhaps Swift, the programming language that was also unveiled this past summer. 

Ultimately, the metric by which the Apple Watch evangelist's success will be measured is not merely in how many apps get created for the device--there are bound to be huge numbers--but how well developers start thinking, speaking and promoting those apps. In other words, if the job is done well, every iOS app developer should become a sort of Apple Watch evangelist, too.--Shane