Jonathan Ive talks Apple design, including flash memory-based Macs

“Ask designers which companies excel at design, and they’ll probably say Apple. But if you ask Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, how Apple does it, he seems almost apologetic. ‘It sounds unremarkable and even naïve, but it’s our obsession with making really great products,’ he said. ‘It’s at the heart of everything we do. I don’t understand how you can exist as a company and not have it,'” Alice Rawsthorn reports for The International Herald Tribune.

“Sadly for the rest of us, most companies don’t. Maybe they’re desperate to placate investors by maximizing profitability at the expense of quality. Perhaps they’re so insecure that they shun risks and make decisions by committee. Whatever the reason, most new products are badly designed, whether it’s in terms of the way they work, how they look, or their impact on the environment,” Rawsthorn reports.

“‘It’s a shocking statement for a CEO to say publicly, as Steve [Jobs] has, that the goal of a company isn’t to make money, it’s to make great products,’ Ive said. ‘We’ve been a long way through product development programs and canceled them because we had that sinking feeling that they weren’t good enough. That courage testifies that the product is at the heart of everything we do,'” Rawsthorn reports.

Rawsthorn reports, “Apple’s products are not only new in terms of what they do, but how they are constructed. The company develops new tools, materials and production systems for each project in an arduous process of checks and cross-checks. Ive is lucky in that advances in technology have accelerated throughout his career. Having already had new polymers and composite materials to play with, and pioneered the transition from cathode ray tubes to flat panel displays in desktops, he is now excited by the possibility of replacing hard drives with smaller, more robust flash memory in iPods.”

Rawsthorn reports, “Ive insists that how the products’ look is determined by technology and usability, and that Apple’s underlying design principles are unchanged. ‘A huge amount of what we try to do is simplification, solving very complex problems without making the complexity evident,’ he said. ‘In so many products you see the designer wagging his or her tail in your face. Our obsession is being very, very pure and inevitable, in some cases getting design out of the way.'”

Full article here.

Related articles:
Apple design chief Jonathan Ive collects CBE from Queen Elizabeth – November 17, 2006
Apple designer Jonathan Ive plays critical role for Cupertino Mac- & iPod-maker – September 15, 2006
Solid-state NAND Flash hard drives inch closer to portable computers – July 26, 2006
Samsung launches 32GB Flash disk in 1.8-inch form factor for portable computers – March 21, 2006
If Apple is a religion, Steve Jobs is God, Jonathan Ive his son – March 18, 2006
Intel demos NAND flash memory laptops – March 08, 2006
Apple’s Jonathan Ive named Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – December 31, 2005
Flash memory poised to replace hard disk drives? – September 14, 2005
What happens when Steve Jobs dies? – August 20, 2003 (Jonathan Ive, Apple Computer CEO circa 2025)


  1. How large are the largest flash memory modules these days. I can’t imagine having a computer with less than 100GB of storage space, so a flash memory module would need to be pretty big to accomodate that type of space. Unless he’s talking about putting the OS on a flash memory module and having that separate from the HD used for other storage.

  2. An ultra portable with 64GB of storage and a 10in screen would be awesome as a second very portable computer.

    Or, add a 16GB flash drive to the main hard drive so the main hard drive can spin down even while you are saving files to a safe location.

    There are any number of ways this would be great – help batterylife, size, etc….

  3. I read somewhere that flash memory has a finite number of Write cycles before it starts to burn out. Anyone know if this has been addressed yet or roughly how many Write cycles that approximately is.

    That is the main reason why I went for a HD based iPod rather then a nano. That and the 80Gb of storage.

  4. “Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it Santa Rosa, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina.”

    “No, there’s no way that’s correct.”

    “I’m sorry, I was trying to impress you. I don’t know what it means. I’ll be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what it means anymore. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago.”

  5. Quote: “he is now excited by the possibility of replacing hard drives with smaller, more robust flash memory in iPods”

    It is not about flash memory-based Macs (yet) but iPods, I think that in this article, Ive was talking about the move from disk-based iPods mini to flash-based iPods nano…

  6. “‘We’ve been a long way through product development programs and canceled them because we had that sinking feeling that they weren’t good enough.”

    wouldnt it be fun to be let in and look at all these abandoned products.

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