Apple's Ahrendts hire highlights obvious: Tech is about fashion now

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts brings customer experience, fashion, design and tech cred to Apple's already powerful retail business.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

It's not about technology specs, the latest processor or even functionality. Technology is increasingly about fashion. Smart watches, Google Glass and smartphones where the biggest distinguishing characteristic is the color palette highlight where the tech industry is going.

angela apple

Apple intends on leading that fashion charge.

The company said that it has hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to lead Apple's retail efforts. Ahrendts brings a lot of credibility to Apple. To wit:

  • Ahrendts gets technology and has been one of Salesforce.com's leading customer references.
  • She understands design — a prerequisite at Apple.
  • And knows how technology and design can meld with fashion to improve the customer experience.
  • In other words, Ahrendts is highly likely to do good things with Apple's retail operation. She will have "oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores."
  • Ahrendts, who will leave Burberry in the spring, gives Burberry a nice transition period. The broader picture here is that tech has become more about fashion than anything else. 

Earlier: Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts joins Apple, abandons eyewear for iPads

Sure, specifications matter, but color matters too. Devices are becoming accessories. Sensors will be built into clothes to track movement and other tasks. Toss in buying fatigue for devices and technology companies need some new tricks to get you to buy. The new trick is likely to be fashion. Exhibit A is the gold-ish iPhone 5c.

Here's the catch: Most device makers don't get fashion. Is Google Glass fashionable? How about that Samsung smart watch that isn't likely to have Rolex quaking anytime soon?

Apple sees where the ball is going with its Ahrendts hire. Now look for other tech companies to start raiding retail to find execs.

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