Apple designer Jonathan Ive design signature is writ large on Macs, iPods, iPhones and the iPad

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Like all great artists, Jonathan Ive’s signature can be found on his work. Sort of,” Matt Hartley reports for The Financial Post. “It’s almost invisible, undetectable. But it’s there, etched at the base of the reverse side of every one of Apple Inc.’s iPods, iPhones and iPads: ‘Designed by Apple in California.'”

“It’s a simple statement to place on a technology product — alongside the obligatory ‘Assembled in China’ — but it speaks volumes about the emphasis Apple places on the work of Mr. Ive, the company’s shy, unassuming and relatively unknown senior vice-president of industrial design,” Hartley reports. “While the Apple spotlight is focused on the computer titan’s bombastic chief executive, Steve Jobs, among the hordes of Macfaithful, Mr. Ive is often hailed as the design genius who helped fuel Apple’s turnaround from also-ran computer maker to the king of high-end electronics.”

MacDailyNews Take: “Also-ran?!” Also-rans do not dictate the direction of the market for well over 30 years. An example of an also-ran computer maker would be Compaq. Or Gateway. Also-rans, by definition, do not lead; they follow at a great distance. If Hartley is referring to units shipped (market share), okay, fine, but that’s the only measure that would work – not revenue share and certainly not mind share. By any objective measure, the PC industry’s leader for over three decades has clearly been Apple. Hartley would have done better to use the dreaded “niche” in that spot instead.

Hartley continues, “The 43-year-old Briton is responsible for leading the design team that created many of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s signature, culture-shifting products, including the colourful iMac, the iPod music player, the iPhone and now the iPad tablet computer… His work has become the focus of design-school case studies, while his creations, including the original iPod, have joined the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.”

“Although Mr. Jobs receives the lion’s share of the credit for Apple’s rise from the doldrums to a company with a US$215-billion market capitalization today, Mr. Ive is seen by many analysts as the man who helped turn many of the Apple founder’s ideas into products,” Hartley reports. “There are even whispers that Mr. Ive is on the short list to replace Mr. Jobs as chief executive when the Apple founder eventually steps down.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “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…” – SteveJack, MacDailyNews, August 20, 2003


  1. Dude, seriously, there was an also-ran moment where Apple was churning out mediocre beige System 9 crash boxes under the guidance of one schlock CEO after the next.

    I’d also go so far as to say with the Mac there has been little design change for quite some time. I figure Ives has been on iPad duty full time.

  2. If not Ive then who would be next? Schiller? We all love Phil, but is he the ass-kicker needed to take the reigns? How about Guy Kawasaki? Maybe… but he doesn’t seem like the type who woud want the responsibility. No CFO or any other bean counter would work, they already tried that idea.

  3. How many computer companies have been ruined when the “suits” or sales people took over? (Apple)

    I would be wary of putting an industrial designer in charge. No disrespect to Mr. Ive but this is a classic example of that paradigm.

    I worked for the Byte Shop Northwest from 80 to 85. A very profitable computer retailer. In 85 Pacific Telephone (the suits) took over an in three years they had lost 111 million dollars and the company was out of business.

  4. @theloniousMac
    OK tM and all you people pay close attention….




    not Ives, there is not more than one of him, and he is not related to Burl.

    Also I could make an argument, and will, that the reason Apple changes designs so infrequently is because of the timeless nature of those designs. Design is not random, it is not arbitrary. When you come up with something that is an optimal solution, you don’t just change it to something different for the sake of change. It’s part of Dieter Rams’ philosophy and Ive subscribes to it fully.

  5. The low point for Apple was in the 90s, when there were Morotola and Umax clones running Mac OS. They went from leading as MDN’s take says, to being a Microsoft/Dell combo. That was horrible. The CEO basically tried to copy Microsoft’s strategy.

    John Ive would be great as a CEO, because he really has the patience and attention to detail that Steve has. What makes Steve unique is his ability to stay focused on product design marketing. He doesn’t write code, and he’s not an accountant. Steve and John Ive have more in common than anyone else in the top executive staff at Apple.

    Tim Cook did a fine job while Steve was on leave, but the projects he oversaw were already envisioned and in the works.

    Chrissy One: Schiller?? Not a chance.

  6. I always laugh at guys like Kawasaki and their ilk. Can people not think for themselves? If you watch documentaries – this guy actually thinks he’s a cog in the tool. Self importance is a sure fire litmus of ignorance. Happens everywhere – even here.

  7. @ breeze

    No, I’m serious about Guy, but it would have to be someone like him, with his obsession with the platform. I’d like to have a beer with Guy, but I don’t see him as a CEO.

    Tim Cook is a good businessman, and would be a good fit if he let Ive and Co. continue handling I.D.

    But none of these guys are really being groomed (at least from outward appearances)

    The way I think the changeover is going to happen is that Apple is going to enclose a few special Golden Tickets in iPad boxes…

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