Jony Ive: Apple product copycats are thieves

“Jonathan Ive designs tomorrow. He has transformed computing, phones and music with his iMac, iBook, iPad, iPhone and iPod,” John Arlidge reports for The Sunday Times. “Apple’s secrecy and his modesty means he has never given an in-depth interview — until now.”

“Hello. Thanks for coming,” grins Ive, as he rolls in, picking up his brew. Ive is the most unremarkable remarkable person you could meet. You might think you’d recognise him if you passed him on the street, but you wouldn’t. He’s not particularly tall, is well built and bald(ish), has two-day-old stubble and dresses like dads do on weekends — navy polo shirt, canvas trousers, desert boots. He speaks slowly and softly in an Essex accent totally unaffected by living in America for more than two decades. “I can’t even bring myself to say math, instead of maths, so I say mathematics. I sound ridiculous,” he laughs.

…Was Jobs as tough as people say? Stories abound of him humiliating underlings and even — perhaps especially — top executives. “So much has been written about Steve, and I don’t recognise my friend in much of it. Yes, he had a surgically precise opinion. Yes, it could sting. Yes, he constantly questioned. ‘Is this good enough? Is this right?’ But he was so clever. His ideas were bold and magnificent. They could suck the air from the room. And when the ideas didn’t come, he decided to believe we would eventually make something great. And, oh, the joy of getting there!”

…I ask whether he is flattered or frustrated when he sees his designs so widely referenced, reworked — ok, copied. “It’s theft,” he replies in a heartbeat, his eyes narrowing sharply. “What’s copied isn’t just a design, it’s thousands and thousands of hours of struggle. It’s only when you’ve achieved what you set out to do that you can say, ‘This was worth pursuing.’ It takes years of investment, years of pain.” Jobs put Ive’s anger into action. He severed ties with the Google boss and former Apple board member Eric Schmidt, when it emerged the search giant was developing its own answer to the iPhone. Jobs also successfully sued Samsung for $1 billion for ripping off Apple’s ideas.

Much more in the full article via here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz,” “Bill,” “Dan K.,” and “Jax44” for the heads up.]


  1. I like how the author belittles Apple’s innovations as overpriced objects. For example the author cites the fact that Apple has planned obsolescence, giving the example that the charger changed and that on top that the charger is way overpriced. In fact ten fold. This is ridiculous. Apple changed its charger after 10 years from the iPod 30 pin version to the lightening adapter seen in the iPhone 5. This was to streamline the charger and also enable Apple o make thinner iPhones, pads and possibly watches. On top of that the charger is much more intricate and is not simply a charger but also a data transfer wire which has specific switches in it that allows different hubs in it to transfer information in the most efficient way possible.
    When people, especially writers who supposedly research this stuff, say inane comments like this it reveals they have no technological or common sense background. When Steve Jobs died so did the Apple spokesman who could explain this stuff clearly.

  2. John Arlidge: Apple was in trouble at the time and the firm was half a world away. This time he signed up. It was 1992.

    No. Apple was not in trouble at the time. There were no obvious signs that Apple was in trouble until near the end of 1994 when awful Mac OS 7.5 ‘Capone’ was released. — The usual mythologizing, vs bothering with research data, Mr. Arlidge?

    Back then, Apple’s products were dull. Remember the Newton?

    YES I remember. NO, it was far from dull, seeing as it was THE FIRST PDA, personal digital assistant. It lead DIRECTLY to Palm and iOS devices, as well as all the ripoff ‘smartphones’. This writer is not impressing me.

    But when Steve Jobs, who had been ousted in 1985, returned to try to save the firm in 1996…

    NO. Jobs did NOT return to ‘save the firm’ at all. Jobs came along as an advisor when Apple purchased NeXT. That was in early 1997. Jobs wasn’t asked to ‘return’ as ‘interim’ CEO until June of that year. He wasn’t the ‘official’ CEO until September of that year. Bad research from this lazy writer.

    But critics complain about the built-in obsolescence of Apple products.

    OK. WTF is he talking about? ‘Obsolescence’ my aunt Fannie’s bung hole. I’m typing right now on a 2006 MacBook I can’t kill. It’s seven and a half years old and I still write everything on it, stream 720p video on it, play 3D games on it. Again: WTF?! What an asinine statement, Mr. Arlidge.

    Enough obsessing over BAD WRITING. It’s great t learn more about Ive, who reminds me of someone I am lucky to know and call ‘brother’ in Berlin, with his wonderful gentle creativity. But I can totally do with out the John Arlidge inflicted lazy crap in this article. 😛

    1. They gotta come up with a better phrase or idea than “planned obsolescence”. Planned obsol. is when crap is **engineered** to break down early. You can sling around opinions on that, but please show me the **evidence** of that engineering. I’ve always seen high quality engineering, design and manufacturing from their products.

      We’ve come from a world of plastic feature phones and smartphones that barely lasted beyond their contract (banged up and grody), and we’re told that iPhones/iPads/Macs (with an unheard-of resale value at end-of-contract) suffers from “planned obsolescence”?

      If that’s the standard for planned obsolescence, tell me what you call everyone’s products that have little or no resale value at end-of-contract? (crap so poorly designed that you don’t need to sabotage it with planned obsolescence, I suppose…)

      1. Planned obsolescence my ass. I still have a 3GS purchased in middle of 2009 that’s used everyday and charged every 2 or 3 days. It’s now an iPod and alarm clock and just received a security update to iOS 6 a month or so ago. What other phone could last the almost 5 years I’ve had it.

      2. “You have disgraced the State. You have proven yourself a coward. You have, therefore, no function. You are obsolete!”

        –The Obsolete Man
        Twilight Zone episode, 1961

        After the iOS7 letdown one has to wonder, Jony.

          1. Unprofessional iOS design that confuses my young nieces and nephews seeing it for the first time.

            Inconsistent iOS7 design that incorporates about five different design approaches at last count, again confusing, and not as consistent or tight as Steve’s drum.

            More battery drain if that was even possible after the 4S release.

            Unsettling, queasy parallax workings for many users.

            Honestly, I could go on but what is the use?

            The Apple fanboys are happy. But the realist Apple fanboys like myself see more missed opportunities as time wears on under thin timid Tim’s watch, sorry.

    2. I have to agree here, especially about so-called ‘planned obsolescence’.
      What complete and utter crap! I have a 2003 PowerBook, which looks like new, although I seldom use it now, preferring to use my Mac Mini; I also have, and still use every day, an iPhone 4, bought new on the release day, as well as my eighteen month old iP5.
      Where I work, there is a Mac tower, made around 2000/2001, that’s still used as a server from the iMacs to an old image-setter, and an original Bondi Blue and white Tower, made in 1999, that was in use up to a couple of years ago as an email server.
      In the time I’ve worked at the company, around ten years, I’ve seen literally dozens of PC’s thrown out, most after a couple of years.
      Now THAT’s ‘planned obsolescence’!

    3. “OK. WTF is he talking about? ‘Obsolescence’ my aunt Fannie’s bung hole.”

      Exactly. I’m typing this on a 2008 Macbook that is running Mavericks, has 8 GB of RAM installed, and is only this month officially a “vintaged” Apple product. Good luck getting anything but an Apple laptop to even run for 6 years, much less be upgradable to the latest OS.

  3. Planned obsolesce is real, folks.

    But after reading all the posts thus far, very few understand.

    Hopefully, I will paint a picture that illustrates the disparity.

    Freehand initial release to this DAY works great on my vintage Mac IIFX. Now, can I still upgrade my system software, web browser, et al?

    Capish? 🙂

  4. Here is the best response I’ve found to the crap Arlidge interview article. It’s far better than anything I can write:

    Why Do Big Magazines Hire Hacks for Big Tech Stories? – by Jeff Carlson

    …I really do wish I knew why such high-profile, information-rich interview opportunities like this one are squandered by big magazines. I’m sure it will get lots of page views and maybe newsstand sales, but the editors at Time (and The Sunday Times Magazine, which originally ran the piece) should be embarrassed. I’m not optimistic on that front.

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