Apple’s minimalist Sir Jonathan Ive assumes Steve Jobs’s role setting design vision

“As Jony Ive worked on early iPhone designs before and since its 2007 introduction, he regularly held meetings in his design studio to get input from top Apple Inc. executives — except one: Scott Forstall,” Peter Burrows and Adam Satariano report for Businessweek. “Even as Forstall oversaw the group responsible for the software that would run the iPhone, he didn’t participate in the meetings, according to people with knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity because the meetings were private. Ive and Forstall were rarely in the same room, the people said. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook made a choice between the two men this week, forcing out Forstall and leaving Ive in charge of the look and function of the software running everything from the iPod Touch to the top-of-the-line Mac. Ive will now be free to impart his minimalist aesthetic on familiar services such as the iPhone operating system while making commands more compatible from one product to the next. He will probably move away from using icons that look like real-world products, such as Post-It Notes and leather-bound contact books.”

Burrows and Satariano report, “Clashes between Forstall and other senior managers since Jobs’s death a year ago had made it harder for teams to work together, threatening Apple’s ability to keep producing the kinds of electronics that made it the most valuable company. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was able to keep the executives’ long-simmering tension under control. Cook made the final decision to revamp management after Forstall refused to sign a public apology for the mishandling of mapping software, people with knowledge of the matter said… Ive, 45, takes on the role Jobs held of setting Apple’s design vision, with responsibility for a group within Apple called Human Interface, which had been run by Forstall before he was pushed out.”

“Critics said [Forstall] was overly concerned with empire building and pushing through favored features while blocking other teams’ ideas,” Burrows and Satariano report. “British-born Ive is known for his deliberate, careful choice of words, and for crediting members of his team while minimizing his own role in development of products… Ive doesn’t have official control of all Apple’s software. Eddy Cue was given charge of the Siri digital-voice assistant and Apple’s mapping software, which has been beset by glitches. Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, will now be responsible for building and maintaining both MacOS and the iOS mobile software. Still, the HI team makes the software layer that governs how the products look and how customers actually use and manipulate the various programs.”

Read more in the full article here.

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39 Comments

    1. I’m not 100% favour to skeuomorphism; however, that aesthetic approach to communicate the function of the icon is how UI born. So, people are accustomed to that lingo then change it radically could be devastating.
      I can’t wait to see how Sir Ive can innovate the UI, I’m sure the changes he’ll brings will be better. Cheering for him and Apple.

  1. Hell yeah! From what I read in Steve’s biography, Jony Ive always had a lot of power. He was the most powerful person at Apple aside from Jobs himself, actually (at least when it came to any sort of design I’d imagine). It’s only natural that he assumes that role officially.

  2. Oh great!…
    We’re going to wind up with a Mac that’s no more than a sheet of glass, glued to a block of aluminum… with no way to connect external gear (except through wireless).

    Fine for the fashion aware, using phones and pads… a pain for those that need to use Macs for business.

  3. Why every other “business” outlet has the need to make up stories about why Forstall left?

    Last time it was Mansfield who could not bear being in the one room with Forstall, now it is Ive.

    Next time they will say that Timothy Cook was never present in the meetings where Forstall was, right?

    1. Both Mansfield and Ive were among those who couldn’t stand Forstall. They’re both true, but certain stories focus on one part more than the other.

      Cook obviously had no problem being present in meetings with Forstall (that we know of), because he was the referee that kept the team from tearing each other apart like Jobs was before he died. The difference is that Jobs’ death changed the dynamic in a way that Cook was either unwilling or incapable of handling. Forstall had to go.

      1. So we are looking at the failure of Cook’s leadership/management leading to the ouster of the guy responsible for bringing us iOS and much of OS X?

        Time will tell how this works, I’m on record. I think it is a BIG mistake.

        I think Scott became the fall guy because he was the least liked guy in the room and is directly responsible for the apps, that every single other exec knew had shortcomings before they shipped.

        1. As a systems guy for 40 years, I can say that when one element of a system requires 50% of your available resources to keep it propped up and the system running, it’s time to seek a new system design that eliminates that element.

          Apple’s management hierarchy is just another system with multiple elements that have to work together to accomplish a goal. One element was eating up a lot of emotional, financial, physical, and time resources in order to keep the system running. Again, time for a new design. The uninformed, inexperienced, timid response would be to continue to prop up the offending element. This approach usually ends in disaster, ala Microsoft. Tim Cook took the informed, experienced, courageous approach. Bravo, Tim Cook!

          1. I prefer to fix things that are valuable and still have life rather than replace them.

            I would also argue that a human is not a commodity resource so easily replaced. Approaching humans from a system or commodity perspective is both morally and intellectually lazy, it is a big reason why so much corporate work is vilified and unrewarding.

            Furthermore, this festering dislike is not new, it existed when Steve was running the show. He as CEO was somehow able to control it, the thing that changed was him leaving/passing. Cook is unable to do what Steve could, manage his people plain and simple. Tim took the easy way out. Scott and his personality excelled there for 15 years, he was the younger SVP IIRC.

        2. Great move by Cook. The alternative would be allowing “fiefdoms” to grow, that would result in Apple becoming the next Microsoft. The new streamlined executive team is right on the money!

  4. Fiction turns into fact. Rumor turns into innuendo. Speculation becomes truth.

    If you tell a lie often enough and loudly enough, the majority of people will accept it as truth.

    The tech press is only not full of shit when it is not regurgitating rumors into facts.

  5. I think Ive needs reining in a little and the engineers given more say. What we are getting are products designed to win design awards; what we need are well designed practical tools.

    Why do we need an iMac that is invisible sideways on, rather than an iMac that is slightly thicker but gives the components room to breathe and thereby ensure a longer life. Already there are heat problems in the current lineup, so Lord knows what will happen with the new ones.

    Form is definitely dominating function – seeing the new iMac made me think of going over to the dark side for the first time in 20 years as a Mac user.

      1. They run hot as all get out.

        Someone even released a fan tweak in an effort to cool em down. The 2011 line especially.

        I have replaced more than a dozen with failed cpu or graphic chips. We suspect heat as the issue, but could not get a definitive answer from Apple. Is that specific enough for you?

        1. “We suspect heat as the issue, but could not get a definitive answer from Apple. Is that specific enough for you?”

          Whoa. That really is shocking evidence. An anonymous person that works on Macs suspects heat is an issue.

          1. Google it then skeptic, I am not alone.

            When you have machines that are running uncomfortably hot, users complaining about it and it then dies in less than a year, AND there is no recall, AND it happens over and over again AND the company that makes the machine has no answer, what do you think?

            After 5, we had our power checked out to ensure we weren’t surging and doing it to ourselves. We also replaced them with higher rated surge suppressors just to be safe @ 45$ per machine.

            What should I believe it is? Gnomes? Magical Fairies? It is both logical and plausible given the evidence that heat related failure is the culprit.

            I make my living supporting Apple gear, I have done this professionally for 15 years, I have been using macs since 1983. I’m no hater, but I do refuse to be a fanboi and give them perfect status and a pass when the evidence says I shouldn’t.

            1. Not jumping to conclusions, i.e. “if it’s not power it must be heat” is not being a fanboi, it’s being rational. If you want to do a scientific test, buy 10 machines, run 5 as stock and 5 with the internals removed from the housing and externally chilled. If after a year of identical use, you find the stock configuration units are all dead and the others are all fine, I’ll believe your story. Until you do that, your venom is based upon conjecture and nothing more.

      2. Samsung drive failures – possibly due to heat issues. Screen problems similar….

        Whatever it doesn’t detract form my main point that form is dominating function. An alternative might have been to keep the same form factor and ruse the additional space amp up the processor (= more heat, but they could probably get away with it.) Alternatively if they’re going to get rid of the DVD it should be possible to put in another drive. Both of more use to business/pro users than a thinner machine.

    1. @Tacitus

      I agree and wonder whether Ive has “vision”. Being able to design beautiful things in one thing but does he have the vision to see what should be designed.

      The Post PC era may have started but the iPad isn’t the end result.

        1. Thinner: Because we all loved the teardrop iMac.

          Metal, Glass: Because Apple products are required by the enviro-whackos to be completely recyclable, whereas Dell can turn out products which are toxic and radioactive without a peep from anyone.

          Black: Except when it’s not. Ever heard of “white”? What colors do iPods come in, again?

          1. You just like to argue, super me too!

            Clearly I wasn’t referring to the gadget line, I was talking macs. In which they killed white some time ago.

            You really going to sit here and tell me the current form factors are as good as it is ever going to get other than thinner versions of themselves?

            Apple set this bar, I expect them to raise it more, the new iMac does not impress me at all.

    2. Apart from the hard drive, iMacs use all laptop parts. They have more volume for airflow inside an iMac than they do in a MacBook Pro, so it likely an issue. They aren’t released yet, so of course I can’t say for sure, but it looks like the full width of the bottom of the iMac is used for cooling and the back bulbs outward by the stand where all the components seem to be located. The outside edge of an iMac doesn’t need to be any deeper than the display, a housing to support the display, and potentially a wireless antenna.

        1. Correct you are about some previous iMac’s CPUs. Some earlier did use laptop CPUs, but not for a while.. Can’t say for sure what the next generation will use, but recent history does point to a desktop class CPU. The GPUs though, are definitely laptop parts, according to nVidia’s website.

  6. It does not matter what the design is, some one “one person” has to be in charge of what that design is. We have liked was Ive has come up with so far, even on his own, and I am sure we will continue to like what he comes up with. This is very important I think all will be well.

    Any problems will be related to public faith and not the skill set of Apple’s team.

  7. I like Cook, but an important part of leading is making sure talent work. cohesively. it’s a difficult task, but the important for any organization. That Jobs could keep it together and Cook couldn’t speaks volumes. Mostly about Jobs.

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