Hello, will. It’s The Voice Kids final this weekend. It seems to have been fun?
I like the show a lot. It’s emotional, it’s joyful, it’s what the UK needs right now.
What else do you think the UK can do to increase the joy?
It [children singing for a cash prize on prime-time ITV] just seems like the right recipe for what’s needed. I can’t think of anything else.
The winner of Voice Kids receives £30,000. How would you advise them to make that money work for them?
I would leave it to their parents to decide that.
If I suddenly got £30K, what should I do with it?
How old are you?
I would say: enjoy your weekend! (Extended guffawing) I’m joking obviously.
When we met a few years ago, you said the internet wouldn’t exist after 25 years, and that we’d have what you called “the mesh” instead. Can you explain more about the mesh?
What was that, five years ago? So: 20 years from now the internet will be totally different. Everything will have computation. You won’t need a phone. Everything will be connected. The whole idea of having a phone to do your computation – that’ll be dunzo.
It feels like that might not even take 20 years.
People aren’t getting rid of their phones for a long time.
Is that something you’ve found with your own wristwear? (2) Did you have pushback from people saying, “I quite like my phone, actually”?
I think Apple and Samsung found that about wristwear – everyone found it and came to the same conclusion: it’s the phone era right now.
Let’s talk about Planet of the Apps. (3) It’s had mixed reviews, how was the experience?
It’s been great! It’s the first show that Apple’s ever put out and funded, so for that, it’s a feat and an accomplishment. There are always tough reviews for everything. The Voice had tough reviews, here we are six seasons in! Everyone who’s afraid of reviews doesn’t need to be in the world of entertainment.
In the world of tech, a series of bad reviews can really affect a product la–
No, you’re wrong. The iPhone had the worst reviews for any device, and it changed the world. You’re wrong on that. Apple is the biggest [tech] company in the world, it’s used to everything it puts out being ripped to pieces! Fact!
Surely when your first wristwear was coming out, and reviews of production models said that you had made objectively the worst product of the year, you must have thought, “That’s not ideal”?
We never launched it. We revealed the proof of concept and our OS passing AT&T’s technical acceptance. We had 70 employees [at the time], and here we are in 2017 with almost 300 employees. So, obviously, those reviews didn’t hurt the growth of the company. Entrepreneurship is about how you take a loss, or take criticism, and learn from it and keep on moving. Right? We live in a world where destroying people and their dreams is a business. People want to see the bad in everything. For example, this interview. Three times you’ve brought up something I’ve learned from and built from. For whatever reason.
I’m interested in the way you’re able to carry on launching products with huge amounts of confidence and investment, yet in terms of the tech world I haven’t seen you do something that’s been a roaring success.
No, no, no, there’s a thing called Beats that I was a part of (4). Research before empty blanket statements … Research would be good.
I was thinking in terms of your own enterprises … (5)
Doesn’t matter. Certain things take time. Do you think things grow in five years?
They can do.
Not everything is at the same pace. It’s about a person’s tolerance and how they’re going to stay at it. I remember my first go at music. It was 1992. I got a record deal. In 1993, we recorded. [Potted history of Black Eyed Peas follows] Then, in 2004, we saw some success. Some things just take long. Some people are in it for the long haul. And throughout the whole journey of growing, you have the people on the sidelines who are afraid to fail, criticising people who are fearless.
Which finalists in The Voice Kids have a huge career ahead of them as recording artists?
A lot of these kids are nine, 11, 12. Ten years from now they could be VR artists. Or augmented [reality] artists. Recording artists are old technology! Now, we live in a world of 3D immersive worlds that mimic the way you look now. These kids could be the artists of that medium.
So, who from the finalists could do that?
[Lengthy pause] All of them.
designed two wearable wrist devices which, unlike many others, were intended for use without a tethered phone.
(3) will is a judge on what is basically Dragon’s Den for app developers.
(4) will once suggested that Jimmy Iovine move into hardwear. A year later, Iovine suggested speakers to Dr Dre; will became an equity partner in Beats.
(5) In addition to the first smartwatch (“One of the worst things I’ve ever reviewed”) these include a $315 iPhone case that reportedly sold 2,000 units and a subsequent watch only available in the UK through one network. He has also just launched some headphones.
The Voice Kids semi-final, Saturday, ITV, 7.30pm and The Voice Kids live final; Sunday, ITV, 7.10pm.