Right now, Apple reigns as the premium brand for mobile products; its monopoly on status symbol status is way too secure. Look upon at how excited people got about the Apple Watch when Android Wear does almost exactly the same damn thing. Spectators fawned over the new gold Macbook even though it’s an $1800 laptop with the processing power of a glorified tablet.
You are beholding the power of HYPE and aesthetics. The hubris is Bono-level unbearable. Apple’s competitors need to step up their game. Android products need their own hyper-hubristic visionary, aesthete and hypeman.
That’s why Google should recruit Kanye West as its head of design for Android and wearables.
I’m not talking about some bullshit vanity position like Will.i.am’s Intel gig or Alicia Keys’ debacle at BlackBerry. I’m talking about Kanye just straight up being in charge of design. One man should have all that power. Let him get in his zone.
Think about it. Kanye made neon shutter shades cool. You can’t even really see out of them! As a proven trendsetter for genuinely terrible accessories, he’s the ideal person to maybe save Glass from its stupid tomb. I know in my heart that Kanye could convince Australian frat boys on molly to buy Glass.
And with mobile, it’s not like Android is slacking, but it isn’t granted the same cultural heft as Apple. Android products are disadvantaged not by true technical inferiority but by persistent branding and aesthetics problems. They desperately need an upscale makeover. And yeah, I know I just said Kanye could hit the Aussie ravebro demo hard, but he’s also a bona fide high fashion powerhouse now.
Why not infuse the Android brand with some much-needed cultural cachet by hiring the man who gave himself a couture makeover? Kanye has already leveraged his production talent into a rap career and his rap career into a fashion career. I’m sure he could figure out how to make a Nexus look maximum fancy. (Or a Galaxy, if Google lets Kanye follow in Jay-Z’s footsteps and establish a tighter partnership with Samsung.)
Not to mention: Kanye has a spouse who is uniquely positioned to act as an advisor and sounding board. Kim Kardashian is one of the savviest business minds and a proven talent in tech marketing. She made 43 f**king million dollars off a mobile game. Think of what she could do if she threw her considerable skills behind a Kanye-designed line of mobile products.
Speaking of Kim, we’ve already seen what Kanye can do to rehabilitate an image. With his guiding touch, Kanye helped revamp Kim’s image from VHI/sextape to Vogue/runway.
Kanye already considers himself heir apparent to Steve Jobs. He’s said the Apple founder is his biggest influence, and made this statement in 2013: “I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.”
Like Steve Jobs, Kanye is an arrogant, brilliant taste-maker with a penchant for minimalism, perfectionism, and setting cultural standards. Like Steve Jobs, Kanye is a polarising figure at the top of his field who grew up middle-class and butted heads with his contemporaries. Like Steve Jobs, Kanye does not know how to code and it really doesn’t matter.
I know Kanye didn’t literally mean that he wanted to run Apple when he compared himself to Jobs. And that’s good, because he should actually run the competition! Fuck taking over the reins from Steve. Usurp his company’s reign altogether.
Apple’s walled-off garden of an ecosystem is antithetical to Kanye’s collaborative, iterative creative process. It represents techno-elitism better than any other company. Kanye has an acute and articulate understanding of class anxiety and how it manifests in the purchase of luxury goods, and he could exploit that knowledge to position Android devices as worthy signifiers. Then he’d probably write an excellent song about the torment of dissecting the emptiness of status symbols only to create them, and we would all listen to it and be better people for it, and we’d listen to it on our Android devices because they’d be cool as fuck.
Yes, I know Kanye does not have experience as a gadget designer. Whatever. He’s making a music video video game about his mum going to heaven and it’s probably going to be incredible. He basically had no experience as a shoe designer when he made Air Yeezys and they are beautiful. I’m not saying he won’t need to surround himself with a more experienced and technically knowledgeable team. I’m just saying he would be the best possible creative director for Android and Google should probably try to hire him.
Illustration: Sam Spratt