How Jony Ive, Apple’s design guru, planned his own obsolescence

Sam Dean for The Los Angeles Times:

Jonathan Ive led Apple’s product design for decades, from the Technicolor iMac that revived the company’s fortunes in the late ’90s to the softly minimalist iPhone that turned Apple into one of the world’s largest companies.

For nearly half that time, he’s been trying to leave.

As early as 2007, when the chubby original iPhone was first being assembled in Shenzhen, China, Ive, who goes by Jony, was contemplating an early retirement to a 17th century mansion in the west of England, where he could tinker with the occasional luxury product while being close to his family.

The incredible success of the iPhone, combined with the terminal illness of former Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, forced Ive to put those plans on hold. Instead of disappearing into the countryside, he ascended, succeeding Jobs as Apple’s top product visionary and the enforcer of its unique aesthetic, which seeks to pare away all but what’s essential.

Since 2015, following the debut of the Apple Watch — one of his signature products, especially in its ultra-luxe iterations — Ive had been dialing down his involvement in the company.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re very happy for Jony Ive, who has longed to leave and do what he wants when he wants for quite some time now. Here’s to many happy years designing wonderful things, Jony!


  1. I would not be surprised for a junior member of the design team to take a premier role in product planning. Naming someone like that right now early on doesn’t seem like a mandatory “thing.”

    I can see the senior management mulling over the issue and how to go forward for some time.

    The only other ultra-creative person I’ve specifically heard of is also a Brit, but is currently seriously occupied with design jobs at Dyson.

  2. Keep in mind that products like the Apple Glasses have already been designed (and reports suggest the first iteration will be released in 2020). The Apple Watch has been a platform to “shrink” sensors, etc., into a smaller space, and then move those technologies over to the Apple Glasses. Once Glasses become the next big thing, then the Augmented Reality environment of the glasses will be the major “design”. In other words, much future design work for Apple will be “software” related, as opposed to creating a variety of hand held physical objects.

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