Apple announced Thursday that Mr. Ive will leave later this year to form his own design firm, LoveFrom, after 23 years running what was arguably the most successful design operation in business history.
Few on the outside knew that for years, Mr. Ive had been growing more distant from Apple’s leadership, say people close to the company. Mr. Jobs’s protégé — and Apple’s closest thing to a living embodiment of his spirit — grew frustrated inside a more operations-focused company led by Chief Executive Tim Cook.
Mr. Ive, 52, withdrew from routine management of Apple’s elite design team, leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures, people close to the company say.
Apple’s association with Mr. Ive will continue; the company will pay his new firm millions of dollars a year to continue to work with Apple, people familiar with the arrangement said.
Yet his departure from the company cements the triumph of operations over design at Apple, a fundamental shift from a business driven by hardware wizardry to one focused on maintaining profit margins and leveraging Apple’s past hardware success to sell software and services.
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last Friday, since the announcement, our biggest question is: WTF does Jeff Williams know about industrial design?
(Hankey and Dye will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. Williams knows operations, mechanical engineering, and holds an MBA.)
Some more shifts in structure will be required if Apple is to retain their winning formula, designed by none other than Steve Jobs, where the designers rule the roost.
No offense to former chief operating officer, Tim Cook, but the ops guy is just there to make sure the parts are in the right place at the right time at the right price. Everyone has a role.
Cook would do well to remember how Steve Jobs structured Apple upon his return, especially the subservient role of operations – and all else – to design and the unparalleled success that structure engendered. Above all, design – hardware and software – is what built Apple into what is is today.
Mr. Cook, an industrial engineer who made his name perfecting Apple’s supply chain, sought to keep Mr. Ive happy over the years, in part with a pay package that far exceeds that of other top Apple executives, a point of friction with others on the executive team, people familiar with the matter say. Apple doesn’t disclose Mr. Ive’s pay. But people in the design studio rarely saw Mr. Cook, who they say showed little interest in the product development process — a fact that dispirited Mr. Ive.
Mr. Ive grew frustrated as Apple’s board became increasingly populated by directors with backgrounds in finance and operations rather than technology or other areas of the company’s core business, said people close to him and to the company… Mr. Ive was devastated by Mr. Jobs’s death. The studio’s cadence slowed.
“When Steve Jobs was alive, there was a lot of effort toward: Steve’s coming to the studio today, so we have to have a lot for him to see,” said a former member of the design group. “When he died, that went away.”
MacDailyNews Take: Obviously. As we also wrote last Friday, the rest of us, and many Apple employees, knew Jony had checked out at least partially years ago.
Mr. Ive told Mr. Cook he wanted to step back from day-to-day management responsibilities. The staff beneath him had ballooned to hundreds of people. He didn’t want to leave, but wanted time and space to think, he told several people.
In May 2015, Mr. Cook emailed staff to announce Mr. Ive’s promotion to chief design officer — a recognition, he said, of expanded design responsibilities that included hardware, human interface, packaging, retail stores and the company’s new campus in Cupertino.
As part of the change, Mr. Cook agreed Mr. Ive would be less present at the company. Mr. Ive often worked near his homes in Hawaii, the U.K. and San Francisco where he met with designers… Mr. Ive promised to hold a “design week” each month with the software designers to discuss their work. He rarely showed up.
MacDailyNews Take: None of this is shocking. It’s been going on for years, and we’ve been writing about it for years; see quotes below.
Before you read these quotes, for which we were pilloried by many during the times they were written, but which were ultimately proven right, as usual (since we discuss what’s really going on with Apple, not just what Apple wants you to hear), remember this quote above all:
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! — MacDailyNews, June 28, 2019
Jony certainly wasn’t involved with the design of the Apple TV’s Siri Remote – unless he was drunk during the 20 minutes that were lavished on its so-called design. — MacDailyNews, November 22, 2016
With the Siri Remote, users can’t tell which end is up in a darkened room due to uniform rectangular shape. The remote is still too small, so it gets lost easily. All buttons are the same size and similarly smooth (the raised white ring around the menu button helps, but so barely it’s astounding that Apple even bothered; it’s a bandaid on a turd). The tactile difference between the bottom of the remote vs. the upper Glass Touch surface is too subtle as well; this also leads to not being able to tell which end is up. A larger remote, designed for hands larger than a 2-year-old’s with a simple wedge shape (slightly thicker in depth at the bottom vs. the top), as opposed to a uniform slab, would have instantly communicated the proper orientation to the user.
If Jony Ive “designed” the Siri Remote, he should forfeit his knighthood*.
*But we all know Jony has been obsessed with Apple Park for many years now and likely never even saw the piece of shit remote before they threw it in the box. — MacDailyNews, September 25, 2017
How many hundreds of billions of dollars more does Apple management need at their disposal in order to do their jobs properly? Any other reasonably competent company a quarter the size of Apple, generating a quarter the amount of income as Apple, should be able to unveil a new iPhone every year while still keeping their Mac lines at least reasonably up-to-date. Apple can’t seem to manage the former or the latter.
What’s the problem? Too big, too fast? Moving into the spaceship? Getting fat and lazy on easy recurring revenue? Too much old blood and not nearly enough new in Apple’s upper management ranks and on Apple’s Board of Directors? Jony’s painfully obvious disinterest or outright absence (see the ugly iPhone Smart Battery Case and the awfully-designed Apple TV Siri Remote, for two recent examples)? No Steve around to really motivate the troops? Founder’s quotes on the wall no longer cutting it already?
Seemingly confused, distracted, and lazy management is a painful thing to witness.
“Oh, but Apple is doing great!” you say? Sure, but you could make the case that they could be doing even better, perhaps much better. — MacDailyNews, August 4, 2016
A big picture revision and course correction would be well advised. Perhaps some new blood — not stuffed quite so complacently with RSUs, perhaps? — high up on the food chain, as well? — MacDailyNews, August 4, 2016
Perhaps having an industrial designer in charge of user interface design wasn’t such a hot idea after all?
Pick a design language, one design language, and stick to it consistently, Apple!
Once again, the issue with Apple Inc. today is a matter of focus or, more precisely, lack thereof.