Uh oh, Apple’s new design leads report to CEO Tim Cook, and not Jony Ive

“Apple updated its executive bios to reflect changes in its design team that were announced earlier this year,” Chris O’Brien reports for VentureBeat. “But the updates came with an unexpected twist.”

“The bio of Jony Ive now includes his new title, Chief Design Officer,” O’Brien reports, “It also added bios for Alan Dye, the new Vice President of User Interface Design, and Richard Howarth, the new Vice President of Industrial Design”

Not sure if there’s anything to make of it, but both Howarth and Dye and are described as reporting to Tim Cook, not Jony Ive.John Gruber, Daring Fireball

“But from the outside, it seems to leave room for speculation about who is making the major design decisions,” O’Brien writes, “And it certainly seems likely to provide more fodder for people who saw Ive’s title change as a gradual stepping away from the company.”

Read more in the full article here.

Jonathan Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer
Jonathan Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer
MacDailyNews Take: The smooth succession is underway. Slow and smooth in order to assuage investor fears.

This info isn’t dumped just before the long U.S. holiday weekend by mistake.

The fact is that Apple without Jony Ive is worse off than Apple without Tim Cook. Tim Cook is easier to replace than Jony Ive.MacDailyNews, May 25, 2015

This is how Apple eases the pressure on Jony while addressing one of their most pressing problems since Steve Jobs was CEO: Succession. Jony Ive is the most important person at Apple. The addition of Marc Newson to Apple’s payroll, in whatever capacity, was one answer to the question. This is the next.MacDailyNews, May 26, 2015

Steve Jobs called Jonathan Ive his ‘spiritual partner’ at Apple. He told his biographer Walter 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, Jobs said, is “the way I set it up.”

This is the beginning of the end of Jony Ive’s time at Apple – May 28, 2015
Jony Ive is Apple’s next Steve Jobs – May 27, 2015
Obviously, Jony Ive is preparing to retire from Apple – May 27, 2015
What Jony Ive’s ‘promotion’ really means – May 26, 2015
Now Jony Ive will have an even bigger influence over Apple’s image – May 26, 2015
Stephen Fry meets Jony Ive, Apple’s newly-promoted chief design officer – May 26, 2015
Jony Ive gives up day-to-day managerial duties to focus on big picture – May 26, 2015
Jony Ive promoted to ‘Chief Design Officer’ – May 25, 2015
Jony Ive is the most powerful person at Apple – December 12, 2014
Jony Ive hasn’t been given too much power at Apple – because he’s always had it – February 5, 2013
Steve Jobs left design chief Jonathan Ive ‘more operational power’ than anyone else at Apple – October 21, 2011


  1. There is no “scandal” here.

    Apple’s VP for communications also report to CEO, not to Senior VP Philip Schiller.

    This is just how management is structured formally. Everyone who is “vice president” rank is vice to Cook, so he/she had to report formally to Cook.

    In reality, of course, VP of communications reports to Schiller, and VPs for design report to Ive.

    1. The fact that nearly all of media like VentureBeat, Verge, etc are clueless about this just shows how much “professional” all of them are. So much for “standards of journalism” or whatever else BS they think of themselves.

      1. It’s another turn in the spiraling devolution of what was once a respected and reliable source of information—news reporting—increasingly replaced by clickhound pandering to a broadening audience of numbskulls.

        1. You nailed it, 2ndmate!

          In addition, I would like to toss out the fact that, sooner or later, Apple will have to soldier on without any of its founders or existing key personnel. No Woz. No Steve Jobs. And, eventually, no Cook or Ives or… That is life, and Apple will have to struggle through those transitions and try to come out of them even better than before.

          We will not forget Woz or Steve Jobs. But different is not always worse. Think different…

          1. Spot on.

            It’d be more worrying if Apple just plodded on with the same management. What happens in 20 years, or even 5? What happens if they have a fall out and someone quits?

            This is pure click-bait, nothing more. Apple have so much talent, and familiarity breeds contempt. It’s a credit to Apple as a long term thinking strategic company that they have made this move, also Jony might, I dunno, be feeling a bit burnt out. Maybe he respects these 2 people and the ideas and skills they have? Perhaps Apple are thinking about moving into another industry and these guys have the skills and contacts to make it happen?

            According to this POS article, we have to think “Oh no, let’s forget all of the above, Apple is doomed”.

            I think the Apple Death Knell has gone into a death spiral.

    2. The website The Official Board has org charts for all public companies. I don’t know exactly where they get their information from but they have Steve Dowling, Apple’s communications VP reporting to Schiller not Cook. My guess is these two VPs may report to Cook on paper (maybe for SEC reasons so Apple doesn’t have to disclose Ive’s salary) but in reality are really still reporting to Ive.

      1. Looks like the things are this way.

        By the way, Apple has funny naming of its top managers’ titles: there are a lot of VPs and SVPs, but no president.

        To be consistent, they would have to call them (senior) vice CEOs or something, but, apparently, there is no such thing in SEC classifications.

    3. I agree, no scandal here. The success of Apple has always been the principle of Design #1, everything else had just better work. Their successes and failures have been a matter of how closely they followed this. Johnny Ive is without question a great designer, but by no means the only one. If he wants to slow down and semi retire, he has certainly earned the right to do so, and Apple must anticipate this and build a deep bench. We can expect moves like this, and as long as designs and quality reign supreme, there is no cause for alarm.

      1. Apple’s competitors have learned the hard way that Apple is NOT a computer or phone company primarily. Their great success is they are a design company. To continue their drive, they have to have a deep design bench. Adding new design staff is to be expected. If they continue to turn out great designs, they will continue to grow. The next “big thing” could be a car, or any number of other products, but you can bet it will be part of the Apple eco-system with great design as the attractive link. Apple is nowhere near the end of its growth. Anyone who thinks this has not been paying attention or understands their secret of success. There are plenty of other markets out there waiting for “disruption” just as the music, phone, watch, and other markets have already experienced. The car business is ripe for the picking. It is interesting to watch this happen. A few obviously “get it” and are trying to find a way to align themselves beneficially, others are clueless.

  2. Nothing lasts forever, This could lead to new cool stuff, or it could start a cooling off period for Apple… They’ve gained more momentum than I think they ever expected.. So time will tell how this goes, it always does.

    1. Right. For Jony to be productive, he has to have real top notch people under him to relieve the pressure and be ready for the next major new work that will be or already is piled on the top design staff.

      No one lives or can maintain humongous hours forever.

      1. If you read the book about Jony, lots of the amazing products Apple have produced have design leads whose name is not Jonathan Ive.

        Jony helicopters above them all, offering guidance, criticism, advice. He’s not sitting there on his own with a pen and a sketch pad making everything! Well he is doing that, but as part of an amazing team, in a glass cube with just a desk and a chair, housed in the giant secret design studio at 1 Infinite Loop.

        His book is definitely worth a read!

  3. So I must surmise Sir Jony is still hot to trot to get back to the UK with his amassed Apple fortune and family. Turnover can be a very good thing unless it’s haplessly promoting to CEO a used car salesman mentality sweaty bald goofball who’s main qualification was being your college dorm roommate.

    1. Ive’s kids grew up in California schools. He may have British roots, but his family is Californian, and even if he does retire he’s not likely going to move back to England.

        1. They’re all erroneous. Ive specifically told the New Yorker he sold his house in England because his family was hardly ever there. Ive also spent $17M in a house in San Francisco that is currently being renovated. There is not one article with a quote from Ive saying he wants to go back to England.

  4. Well, Apple would be helpless without Steve Jobs. Or so the media, masses and investors thought.
    That turned out not to be the case. So, of course Apple will not be helpless without Jony Ive either. There’s a lot of spare talent and educated thinking amassed at Apple, just waiting to unfold.
    Still, loosing Ive would certainly be a great loss. But I am confident: He is not leaving ship before he can do so in an Apple car!

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