“Apple Inc.’s star designer Jonathan Ive is expanding his empire,” Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The Wall Street Journal. “In an internal email, Apple said Greg Christie, who led the company’s ‘human interface’ team that designs software for its products, is retiring, according to people who have seen the email”
“Mr. Christie’s group will report to Mr. Ive, who is Apple’s senior vice president of design, according to the email. The team previously reported to Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief,” Wakabayashi reports. “‘Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple,’ said a company spokesman. ‘He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class human interface team which has worked closely with [Jonathan] for many years.'”
“Mr. Christie, an 18-year Apple veteran, is one of its most senior software designers and played a key role in designing the software for the iPhone,” Wakabayashi reports. “His departure from the company comes as Mr. Ive, revered for orchestrating the design of Apple’s hardware, has expanded his role into software. Mr. Ive played a central role in redesigning iOS 7, the latest version of its iPhone and iPad software. That version moved away from ‘skeuomorphism’ — a design philosophy of recreating real-world objects, such as wood or felt, in digital forms that users find familiar. Mr. Ive has called the new minimalist look of iOS 7 ‘an important new direction,’ although reviews have been mixed.”
“Next to Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, Mr. Ive is the company’s most recognizable executive. A confidant of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs who regularly appears in videos for new products, Mr. Ive is seen as a torchbearer for Apple’s design sensibility,” Wakabayashi reports. “Mr. Christie’s departure was first reported by Apple enthusiast website 9to5Mac [Mark Gurman]. A person familiar with the matter said Messrs. Christie and Ive sometimes struggled to agree on software-design decisions.”
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MacDailyNews Take: From the “Apple Never Learns” file: When one guy gets this important, this crucial, succession questions are likely to dog him and the company for quite some time. Expect the Apple bears, shorts, rivals, pundits, FUDsters, etc. to pounce in short order. For a Post-Steve Jobs Apple, the CEO position is less important than the man responsible for Apple’s products – hardware and software.
Ask yourself: Would today’s Apple survive the loss of Tim Cook? Now ask yourself if it’d be the same company without Jony Ive.
He called Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, his “spiritual partner” at Apple. He told Isaacson that Ive had “more operation power” at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do. That, says Jobs, is “the way I set it up.” – Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs
Start publicly grooming an heir apparent, Jony. As Steve likely knew all too well, the throne is hell without one.