Jul 6

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Segway CTO Leaves for Apple as Product Design VP

Phil Torrone noticed today on the Segway Chat forums that "Doug Field, the chief technology officer at Segway who heads their entire engineering team (and has since Day 1), is leaving Segway to become a VP of product design at Apple." The announcement continues:

Doug has been the driving force in making the Segway what it is today and will be sorely missed at the company. However, with every change comes good and bad. So while it's bad the rich history and experience of Doug is leaving, it's good in that perhaps the team will get a fresh perspective into possible engineering solutions for future versions of the Segway (or Segway-like applications). And hey, what can be better than a gig at Apple? These days, in the design and engineering world, not much!! We wish Doug all the luck in moving on!!

I have no idea what Doug will be working on at Apple, but both the Segway and Apple's recent ascendancy remind us how the computer industry is no longer just a software game. For so long, the standardization of computing hardware gave most of the business advantage to software. Now, the end game of that trend has re-emphasized the differentiating power of hardware design. Meanwhile, Moore's law, coupled with the rise of software above the level of a single device means that smaller and smaller devices can flex computing muscle. As a result, computing functionality is migrating from computers per se into the world of stuff.

We've been chronicling the alpha geek and enthusiast edge of this trend in Make: magazine, but it's a mainstream trend as well. Designing computer infused stuff is the wave of the future, and people who are good at it are going to be in high demand.

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Comments: 8

  ron [07.07.08 02:08 PM]

"Segway's recent ascendancy"? Are they actually doing okay with that thing? I had assumed that it was somewhat of a flop since I rarely see them and when I do everybody that's with me laughs at them. I'm not trying to be mean - I think technologically they're pretty awesome - but I never saw much there in terms of solving an actual need for most people. So who are they selling to primarily?

  Guy Rosen [07.07.08 02:13 PM]

Watch out, Digg stampede coming your way :-). Thanks for the good find Tim.

  Mark [07.07.08 02:51 PM]

LOL Segway

  John Fisher [07.07.08 03:37 PM]

A motorcycle and racing car designer named Tony Foale has recently gone to work at Segway. He is very well known in the motorcycle world as the guy who wrote the definitive book on motorcycle chassis design.

Tony is a hands-on designer, fabricator, engineer, and sometime amateur racer. Whatever he was brought in to do there, I am certain it's not going to be boring. I don't know if he will replace Field or be assisting.

  Tim O'Reilly [07.07.08 05:37 PM]

Sorry about the ambiguity. The term "ascendancy" was meant to attach only to Apple, not to both Segway and Apple. The Segway is way cool, and an engineering marvel, but it hasn't had huge success as far as I know.

  N. Christopher Perry [07.07.08 09:30 PM]

I haven't spoken with Doug in years, but it was always nice knowing he was right down the road at Segway. He was one of the people who interviewed me when I started at DEKA, back when he was on the iBOT/Fred program and the Segway's grandmother, Ginger, was rolling around the halls after hours.

I'm intrigued by what Apple might be up to, given they've lured a man like Doug and his skill set out there....

If your reading this Doug, good luck!

  Andy Wong [07.09.08 05:39 PM]

Surely it will not be iBOT. But it might be something on this direction. If Apple would not acquire Segway, we might expect something like "iBike", "iBoard", or "iSki". You know, somebody has suggested Apple may produce iCar someday.

  Tomas Sancio [07.14.08 10:38 AM]

They probably just need a good technical manager, a person that knows how to bring out the best from engineers. As Dilbert can tell you, good managers with proved results are hard to come by.

On the other hand, Apple thrives with speculation, so picking a guy from Segway is also a PR boost.

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