Jony Ive’s greatest achievement wasn’t the iPhone, it was the original Bondi Blue iMac

Apple's iconic iMac
Apple’s iconic iMac

Alex Blake for Digital Trends:

Jony Ive is leaving Apple. It’s hard to imagine a bigger culture shock to the world’s largest tech company since Steve Jobs’ death in 2011.

When thinking of Ive and his design work, we often turn to the iPod and the iPhone. They’re the devices that sent Apple to stratospheric heights.

But if you’re looking for Ive’s greatest achievement, you’ll have to go a little further back to 1998. That’s because Jony Ive’s most important work was not the iPhone — it was the iMac.

MacDailyNews Take: Without that iMac, Apple may not have been around to make the iPhone years later.

20 Comments

  1. A fab machine — except for that world class, badly designed, hockey puck mouse. How a designer can get so much right and then something so wrong simultaneously is beyond me.

    1. It is easy to fall in love with your own ideas, even when they do not make complete sense. Everyone should keep in mind that Apple products are the result of a design team with insight and oversight from Apple management. In the case the G3 iMac, Ives was part of a team and the team failed to perceive the weaknesses of the hockey puck mouse.

      I used a hockey puck mouse for a couple of years back around 1999-2000, and I recall getting used to it, although never really liking it. But it was easy enough to plug in a different USB mouse, so I really didn’t have strong feelings about it. If that was the worst thing about the iMac, then it was certainly something I could tolerate without a lot of griping.

      Personally, I was surprised by the popularity of the G3 CRT iMac. The brightly colored, translucent case always seemed a bit gimmicky and over-the-top to me, but many people seemed to like the break from the heritage of beige computer. It was a natural extension of the early all-in-one Macs with the tiny 9″ monochrome displays, and it succeeded based on many of the same factors. But the G3 iMac also offered a compelling price point in the late 1990s. The current iMac has lost some of that price attractiveness, even though it offers much greater performance than the old days.

    2. Speaking of bad mouse design, how about the current one that requires you to turn the mouse upside down to charge it. You cannot even use it with the cable attached. Better have a trackpad or plan ahead – or get a Logitech or other mouse.

      1. It’s not that big a deal to charge the mouse for a little while. Once charged it lasts a really long time.

        Interesting thing about the hockey puck mouse. I noticed that when my kids were little it was perfect for them. It really fit well in small hands.

        I love the shape of the Bondi Blue iMac. When we had it in our home I used to marvel at that shape. It was a really curious curve that was somehow really pleasing to look at. That is the talent of a great designer, to find something that really resonates with the human mind.

  2. I loved mine, but I hated all the dongles I needed for my floppy drive, three SCSI devices, printer, and extended keyboard. Steve Jobs would never have done that… oh, wait.

    1. But the dongles were the result of the transition to industry standard USB-A ports. Apple kick-started the commercial market for USB peripherals and we all ended up benefitting from Apple’s push to USB. Unfortunately, we had to deal with the impacts of that transition, just as we are facing now with USB-C. But I like USB-C and I am willing to make the necessary adjustments.

  3. The best original ideas and direction came from Steve Jobs, make no mistake, Jony Ive was Steve Jobs’ wrist, and he fiddled and fiddled until time ran out. Jony Ive was an iphony.

  4. You could strategically place them around a company at places that weren’t too power hungry and you could see them up lift spirits. They came out just as the marketing staff was being switched to Windows NT. The sign that there was life in Apple yet prevented me from having to move creative to Windows.

  5. you can see that in the old days Jony had more fun. He can contribute more as there were more to design. In a few years the iMac went from bondi blue to multicoloured to the grey with the different transparent look to lampshade to flat iMac PLUS he got to make colourful ‘clamshell’ iBooks, white MacBooks to aluminium, G4 Towers plastic to aluminium G5 Towers, PLUS the iPods etc.

    Now how much change to the iPhone, iPad etc ?

    You can see Jony’s overactive abilities starting to get bored and him working on furniture etc.

    (For those not familiar with Ive, note he does the ‘look and feel’ of things not the tech like the processors etc. Today most the advancements in Apple products are the internal tech )

  6. The iMac may have been a kickstart for Apple (very important for its future success) but like I said here 10 years ago in the big scheme of things the iPhone is Apple’s biggest contribution to the world.

  7. I don’t know about all of the details of who designed what and when, but I think over the years, the most irritating and disfunctional thing about the Mac and iPhone was the disappearance of the brilliant concepts of the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines and Jef Raskins’ The Human Interface book.

    I proudly use both in web interface design, why? Because they are just common sense, and I didnt see a lot of that in much that Sir Jony did. I am making an assumption that “minimalism” is one of his ideas, and maybe the thoughtlessness of that idea makes me automatically assign the responsibility to him, he had so many bad ideas that a few good ones don’t compensate for me at least.

    It’s worse in iOS where the “where do I go next” question comes up on almost every touch or swipe in most apps. Maybe that’s not his fault but he IS an easy target because of so many silly projects.

  8. AppleInsider offered a list of the worst Jony Ive Apple designs. Some would say they missed a dozen or two….

    Official AI fanboy list:
    Magic Mouse 2
    iMac
    Hockey Puck Mouse
    Smart Folio Keyboard
    3rd generation iPod Shuffle

    Additions from objective users who actually are willing to compare Apple gear to what else is out there:
    Trashcan Mac Pro
    all other mice that Apple has ever designed
    Touch Bar
    12″ MacBook sans ports
    Butterfly keyboards — all of them
    any generation Apple TV remote
    Dock/Lightning adapters that fit no cases whatsoever
    All gripless white plastic cables
    several poorly made iPad covers
    all skinny fragile overpriced white cables
    any v2 product that is a millimeter thinner than v1 with no better battery life
    Apple Pencil with asinine charging port
    G4 Cube (the orginal thermally constrained corner!)
    iOS 7 and all flat monochrome unintuitive swipy GUIs since
    Airpods – or specifically, the charging case that didn’t bother to consider that some people need silicone sizing options

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