Jony Ive’s guiding of Apple Inc. is making some people uneasy

“Apple pessimism is on the rise. New Apple products are being questioned like never before. Even some of Apple’s most loyal customers are beginning to wonder about Apple’s direction,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “While many are directing criticism towards Tim Cook, nearly all of the criticism pointed towards Apple can in one way or another be traced back to a different person: Jony Ive.”

“The two most powerful people at Apple are Tim Cook and Jony Ive. While Cook is tasked with making sure the Apple machine is being run by the best team possible, Jony’s role is much more abstract. Cook aims to foster collaboration at the top of Apple’s functional organizational structure. If something goes wrong, much of the criticism is quickly pointed at either Cook or one of his top lieutenants,” Cybart writes. “However, the one area Cook does not have complete control over is product strategy. That distinction belongs to Jony. It may seem hyperbolic to consider Jony the most powerful person at Apple. He no longer spends much time managing anyone on a day-to-day basis. He doesn’t speak on Apple’s earnings conference calls. Wall Street knows very little about him, and neither does Silicon Valley. In fact, following his recent promotion to Chief Design Officer, Jony doesn’t even spend as much time at Apple HQ these days. Yet Jony has such a significant influence over Apple’s product strategy, it is safe to say we are firmly within the Jony Ive era at Apple.”

“Some think Apple’s design-led culture doesn’t fit within today’s changing tech landscape. Others think Apple is running out of ideas. Instead, the opposite is true,” Cybart writes. “By doubling down on design, Apple is placing a rather large bet. Apple executives think design will continue to allow Apple to remain focused on the customer experience. It is this customer experience focus that will then keep Apple relevant and able to ride the technology waves like no one has done before. It all comes back to Jony and the ID philosophy that is guiding Apple. If you have doubts about Apple, you probably are uncomfortable with Jony’s vision for the company.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re not at all uneasy. Since Steve Jobs passed, Jony Ive has always held the most power at Apple.

Jony Ive is the most important person at Apple.MacDailyNews, May 27, 2015

What Jony wants, Jony gets.

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.

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.” — MacDailyNews, May 25, 2015

It is obvious, however, that Jony has checked out on some products. For example, the horrendous Apple TV Siri Remote. There are so many usability issues with it from its size to button placement to upside-downness in the dark, that it’s clear Jony never saw the thing prior to shipment or, if he did, his mind was elsewhere at the time (Project Titan).

Despite some issues, we firmly believe that Big Things™ are in the Apple pipeline. Patience, Padawans.

SEE ALSO:
Where is Jony Ive? – March 28, 2016
Obviously, Jony Ive is preparing to retire from Apple – May 27, 2015
Jony Ive is Apple’s next Steve Jobs – 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

40 Comments

  1. the new version of watch os – fantastic, the new version of apple music – fantastic, the new version of iOS – fantastic. so the question really is – has apple become a 2nd version to fix mistakes company – or have they figured it out and are now cranking out quality again?

    1. Not unusual seeing that at Apple or elsewhere. Nature of technology – how can anything be perfect out of the gate and all problems and potential solved from day one? It’s an ongoing process of improvements and reacting to your market. Takes Microsoft many many tries, and it’s still bad.

      1. Nobody expect it to be perfect. There’s no such thing.

        But people don’t expect the IOS update to brick their iPad pros either.

        Apple has fallen really, really low in quality without Jobs. Cook doesn’t seem to mind. Meanwhile, the Apple ATV4 remote is an ergonomic disaster and the hardware itself is way behind the competition. I suppose they have to wait to see what the competition comes up with so they can copy them.

        1. You seem to forget the mistakes made under Jobs watch too. You could probably go to any era of Apple and say the same things about what was happening then.

          “I suppose they have to wait to see what the competition comes up with so they can copy them.”

          I detest when I see anyone write that it’s so disingenuous and wrong. Apple doesn’t “copy” anyone, quite the opposite.

          A look at Steve Jobs’ biggest failures as Apple CEO:
          http://bgr.com/2016/06/28/steve-jobs-failures-app-store-ipod-hi-fi/

          1. True, Jobs made mistakes too … but when one looks at the hardware disaster examples on bgr.com’s list, we also find they all were also fixed – – and also within but two years (and a shout out to the “Can’t Innovate My Ass” Mac Pro trash can team: the Cube was killed before it became one year old).

            Considering that we’ve had the trash can for three years (& counting) and the single port MacBook still lacks some adaptors that should have shipped on Day 1 … and there’s been chronic discussions on the inadequacies of the thermal envelope on the iMac ever since it went “thin” … and customer-unfriendly moves such as soldered RAM, less/non-serviceable sealed boxes and literally going backwards on hardware specs on the mini (Quad I& dropped) … which, BTW, still hasn’t been fixed @ 22 months and counting.

            But don’t worry – a magical tube shaped electric car is going to make us forget all of the core business units’ shortcomings. Unfortunately, the only color that it will be offered in will be Zune Brown.

            1. The only good thing is I still feel good about my fully loaded 2014 Mac Book Pro without a lot of significant changes since then. Not so with the Mac Pro sadly. I think the end of this year and beginning of next with the Mac are watershed make or break periods, especially for pro’s gasping for upgradeable Mac Pro air, and other Macs “languishing” in the line. Let’s hope they’re listening.

  2. Neil Cybart over analyses Apple inc. in the abstract. I tend to listen more to Horace Dediu for a more reasoned and balanced view of Apple inc.

    Apple inc. being “design lead” is so yesteryear is effectively what Cybart is attempting to say, because some diehard technologists are pissed off with the evolution of the iPhone and Mac lines. Well guess what Neil, the real customers vote with their wallets and guess where all the cash ends up ….you got it, yes Apple inc.!!

  3. Form follows function.
    That’s what Jony says.
    Problem is, Apples computers don’t function that well in comparison to the competition.
    The Mac hardware isn’t being updated.
    Pro’s needs are being ignored.
    Jony thinks that slim is everything now, everything else is forgotten.
    Remember when we used to say “design is not just how it looks, it’s how it works.”?
    It doesnt work anymore.
    I’m a Mac user since 1989, I’ve had to add an SSD to a new mid range iMac just to make it usable.
    Ive had to build a hackintosh to get s decent gpu to play games.
    I’m dual booting Windows so I can play no mans sky, and guess what? Windows ain’t that bad.

    1. You aren’t the only one, but I’m skipping the whole Hackintosh deal and just buying a PC. Loyal Mac user since ’92, but they just don’t care about me or power users anymore.

  4. Jony Ive = form over function

    Thinner and thinner phones for no defensible reason
    Lower contrast icons in IOS
    The bag-o-crap which is iTunes

    I’m pretty sure Jobs actually used this stuff. Ive? Not so much.

    1. Yeah that’s exactly it, they are simply idling and the CEO concentrating solely on social issues. Brilliant deduction Holmes from your specious reasoning skills though the stockholders might be a little miffed. Maybe some day you’ll make it out of third grade Debate Class skill level.

      1. Thank God then that Apple have other presumably competent people like Federighi, Ahrendts, and Schiller to keep the foundering ship afloat until jambro can come up with the name of someone that can save them from Davy Jones’ Locker—hurry, jambro, lives are at stake!

    2. Herself is right! This is our most desperate hour and only YOU can save us Obi-jambro – you’re our only hope! (Mac can’t because he’s too busy cleaning extra messy bed pans in his graveyard shift orderly job.)

  5. Rubbish anti-Cook drivel.

    My iPhone, MacBook Pro, and iPad are tough as old boots and give daily service, helping me earn a living.

    Oops, nearly forgot the cordless Mouse. Ditto, tho’ it still continues to need its bi-monthly battery fix.

  6. There is nothing new about Apple pessimism or criticism of management. Anyone who has an actual memory, instead of re-manufactured histories read on the internet, knows that Apple was always unfairly treated in online media, and before his deification, Jobs was constantly accused of hubris and being in decline. Nothing new here. It’s always the same story. For a company that has constantly been reported in decline for the last ten years Apple is, amazingly, still here.

  7. If anything is awful at Apple today, its its design. It’s been at its lowest since the year after SJ passed. Starting with the childishly awful ios 7, the 6 series iPhone. The battery pack. The egregious faults at Apple point to the design people.

  8. Mac is spouting revisionist history. Those of us who have used Apple products since the beginning don’t have such faulty memory.

    One example out of *many*: Many of us remember very clearly an iTunes update back in the ’90s completely erasing entire home directories due to an errant path in the update.

    When Apple was a Mac-only company, the impact of a bug measured in mere thousands of people. Now that Apple is a much larger company with *many* more products that impact a *much* larger user base, bugs impact tens of millions of people. And THAT is what makes it *seem* as if quality is slipping – even though Apple’s real-world internal metrics show quality has actually improved.

    The fact is Apple has *always* made mistakes, but things have improved under Tim Cook, and will continue to do so.

      1. The year isn’t all that relevant. I’ve been an Apple user long enough that the decades tend to blur. So it wasn’t late ’90s – it was early 2000s. An iTunes update contained a path that wasn’t quoted and users with a space in the pathname (IIRC, a space in the name of the startup drive) saw their data deleted by the update. It was a big deal at the time, and was well documented by all of the Apple media. And like I said that’s just one of many bugs we’ve seen over the years.

  9. Whoever was responsible for the non-Pro “Mac Pro” makes me uneasy.

    What a nice Mac. But those of us who actually need the fastest GPUs available, CUDA compatible choices, and compatibility with high end GPU Tesla cards used for general computing, have been left without a Pro machine.

    1. Exactly right. The Mac Pro shows that Apple have forgotten how to create hardware and software for pros.

      For pros it’s not about the hardware or software, it’s about supporting that hardware and software with regular upgrades to stay ahead of the curve.

      All they can do now is sell tech trinkets to the mythical people that appear in their ads.

      Why can’t they simply sell me a good looking box and let me fill it with what I want, and then push the innovation into writing best in class drivers for that 3rd party hardware?

      Apple would say that the hardware is fast enough now.

      That’s just what Gates said. (640kb is enough for anyone)

      What worries me is that if something new comes along that’s as much as a game changer as the mouse was (like an AR or VR operating system maybe), Apple simply won’t have anything on the market capable.

  10. Jony Ive needs to keep his hands off the Mac Pro and let some savvy engineers do the work. There’s nothing wrong with using a rectangular case that can take multiple industry-standard graphics cards and an upgradeable CPU. I’d prefer to have my storage in the main case but I’ll concede if they can make the package more compact for design sake. Apple does not need a Mac Pro that looks good on a coffee table because the people who will be needing it the most won’t be putting it on a coffee table. How does it benefit Apple to build a hobbled Mac Pro which no one will buy? I’d almost swear Apple was building the Mac Pro with non-upgradeable GPUs in order not to have to deal with customer support of third-party GPUs and that’s really sad.

    1. You’re right about the need for better CPU upgradeability for the small form factor that is the cylinder. I have written to Apple about that and have hopes a next design iteration will address the issue.

      You’re wrong about the rest of it. The Mac Pro is black. It wasn’t designed to shine, to sit on a coffee table to be seen and admired, but to fade into the background like a disappearing user interface element — to be not seen.

      As well, it is designed to be whisper quiet, with no growling fans — to be not heard.

      And it sits on a high shelf, or on my desk concealed behind a pair of monitors, instead of under the desk like every tower model since the G4, where I’d poke it with my bare feet, and need to vacuum out the corporate dust every other week. It was designed to be not touched.

      So, sight, sound, touch — With respect to human senses the design of the Mac Pro is outstanding, getting out of the user’s way like the Cheshire Cat dissolving, leaving just the lingering smile of a pure user experience.

      Grizzled veterans don’t much appreciate such aesthetic considerations, but Apple knows, and so does every savvy company, that millenials are taking over the workforce. They don’t care about replaceable batteries in their phones, and they don’t care about sockets in their computers either.

      God knows, it’s a brave new world and we’d best get used to market priorities instead of clinging to old beliefs of what these companies “should” do. Change the things you can control; accept the things you can’t.

  11. One factor clearly going on at Apple is growing pains. As a company grows, it usually becomes less focused and more Bureaucratic. Steve Jobs was a knife that cut through all the BS and hit the focus target. Ives and Cook are far nicer guys, reluctant to deal with the blow back of being TYPE A personalities. – – The imminent moving of much of the company to The Mother Ship isn’t helping focus either.

    There there are these two factors:
    • Diversity of design, allowing for competing ideas and thrashing out of good, better, best as well as inspiration of ideas outside the Apple box.
    • Apple isn’t ‘breathing’, as I call it. It’s growth has meant NO layoffs. I consider regular contraction then expansion of a company to be critical to its health. Out with the bad air (dead wood employees), in with the good air (new employees with new skills and spirit).

    There are a variety of factors that can spur a company to ‘breathe’. However, Apple Bear Bullshit isn’t one of them. Rabid hot air blowhardism from dumbasses with money isn’t one either. That’s mere FUD, which inspires nothing because it is worth nothing. 🍎🐻🐂💩

    1. the people that are vilifying Apple for the trash can don’t own one. I made the design leap in 2013, and one or two other MDN commenters did too, but our testimonials have been blown asunder by verbose denunciations from the old guard. It hurts, but our personal producivity and satisfaction manage to compensate for our virtual exile from a once harmonious Mac community. And yes, there once was such a thing.

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