Jonathan Ive to eventually succeed Steve Jobs as Apple CEO?

“Could Jonathan Ive, the publicity-shy Essex boy who started his career designing toilets and combs, be close to performing one of the most extraordinary coups in American business history?” Chris Ayres asks for The Times Online. “Could this 40-year-old gym-toned, shaven-headed, Aston Martin-driving Brit, who lives in Twin Peaks, San Francisco, with his wife, who is a historian, and their twin sons, be the next man to run Apple Computer?”

Steve Jobs “is under growing pressure to name his ultimate replacement, as many fear that a company built on one man’s personality needs a clear succession plan,” Ayres writes.

Mr Ive and Mr Jobs are said to talk at least once a day, and Mr Ive shares his boss’s perfectionism,” Ayres writes.

“Some have suggested that Mr Ive lacks the charisma to become ‘Steve 2.0,’ and that he could never deliver Mr Jobs’s Hollywood-style press conferences,” Ayres writes.

Full article here.

Pardon us if we’re not shocked with the amazingly unique prescience of Ayres et al.:

Leading Apple is a very tricky proposition. Only one man so far has pulled it off successfully. Twice. The key ingredients seem to be a quest for perfection, a passion for the technology and the company, and the ability to relate Apple’s ideas to the world with style. Jobs is truly the charismatic force that propels Apple forward in the face of tremendous odds.

Right now, it looks like Apple’s best hope, and a very good one at that, is Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Vice President of Industrial Design… He seems to work well with the engineers responsible for the hardware. He is obviously a meticulous genius. And he has “that certain something” which, importantly, comes across on camera and in person. Whether he has the extremely rare “vision thing” that Jobs possesses; well, that’s still an open question.

Watch Ive in the Power Mac G5 intro video. Ive first appears about 40% in, at the 2:50 mark of the 6:33 minute video. Note that he is almost wearing a black mock turtleneck already. Contrast his presentation style and enthusiasm with the other Apple presenters. Can you sense the almost Jobsian, call it Junior Jobsian, aura? Ive has “it” while all of the other Apple employees in the video are just nice people talking about a computer. And Ive should only get better with time. Could we be watching Steve Jobs’ successor, Apple’s future CEO, in the 31-year-old Ive?

Jonathan Ive, Apple Computer CEO circa 2025. It has a pretty nice ring to it, doesn’t it? You heard it here first. I think Mr. Ive could pull it off. And I think Jobs thinks so, too; in about twenty years…SteveJack, MacDailyNews, “What happens when Steve Jobs dies?” – August 20, 2003


  1. no way , my money is on scott forstall

    he has the looks , charisma and above all the tech knowledge to get the job done

    plus he’s as cool as a cucumber without being arrogant

    what aboot the way he handled that time machine cock up at the leopard unveiling ?

    ‘i wish i could go back in time before that happened !’

    haha !

  2. No need for a visionary fellow after Jobs. Steve Jobs created Apple, later rescued it and gave it its current direction. This last chapter of his reign is about consolidating Apple edge in music and creating/consolidating one in movies, corporation, cell phones and retail. When it’s all done, it will just be management time. And the next guy won’t need to be a genius at all. As an analogy, take a look at Microsoft: Gates is the genius, Ballmer is the #^&(*(&*… and well, MSFT is still flying.

  3. Ive would be an interesting choice as a successor. In addition, it would further highlight the philosophical differences between Apple and Microsoft: choose the creative/visionary guy, not the bean counter/salesman-of-the-month, to lead.

    But yea, the discussion is probably a bit premature, though the call for at least naming a successor seems legit.

  4. flappo: Part of the reason Apple is so innovative is because of Jobs’ arrogance, actually. That quest for ‘ultimate perfection’ – pushing beyond what’s really reasonable – is what got the iPhone out the door, not to mention countless products before that. And do you know any other CEO who, on his first day, has gone to a meeting, written down a list of almost everything the company sells, and said, “We’re not selling these anymore?”

  5. The only problem with Steve Jobs as CEO is that he will have to step down one day. Nearly every aspect of his personality are part of what makes Apple products a hit..he IS the face of Apple. Those are large shoes to fill, and I doubt one man can do it.

    I too hope we have at least 15 years before Jobs steps down, and I think we all can be reassured he will plan his succession with his usual fastidious nature.

  6. As long as it doesn’t fall into the hands of the bean counters, marketers or salesmen. Once it enters into into this phase it will be the beginning of the end.

    Apple is and always should be about creating great highly functional well designed products, then letting everything else revolve around that. For that, you need a creative person leading the charge.

    I vote for Ive.

  7. Naming a replacement is a good idea, you just never know when you’ll be in a car crash or your private jet will go down. I want SJ to live a long life but Apple needs to be prepared to move forward without him when that day does come up.

  8. He’s too soft. When asked early on in a BBC interview about the iPod batteries, he said he wasn’t allowed to talk about it. “They don’t want you saying anything about it? “No.”

    What kind of answer is that? Posters around here would eat him alive on a MacDaily basis.

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