Did Jony Ive jump or was he pushed?

Did Jony Ive jump or was he pushed? That’s what ZDNet’s Robin Harris is wondering today, writing, “Jony Ive is a brilliant designer. He helped bring Apple back from a near death experience with the original iMac and iBooks and, later, MacBooks. But he also accounted for a number of costly flops, that, while Apple would never admit it, would have sunk even more accomplished executives.”

Jonathan Ive
Jonathan Ive
Robin Harris for ZDNet:

Form follow function is the modernist design credo. But too often, Jony flipped that on its head, making function follow form.

The most obvious flop was the trashcan Mac Pro… But Mr. Ive’s relentless pursuit of thinner and lighter objects put him on a collision course with how people actually use Apple’s products. The slightly thinner butterfly keyboard sacrificed reliability for style…

So we’ve seen Apple reverse course on a number of Ive initiatives. iPhones have gotten thicker for better battery life. The butterfly keyboard is on the way out. The trashcan has been replaced with an extremely expandable design…

It’s clear that Mr. Ive was on the way out for some years. I suspect that he was mostly occupied with making design choices for Apple’s $5B spaceship HQ, rather than day-to-day industrial design, for most of the last five years… Make no mistake. Mr. Ive was nudged out the door.

MacDailyNews Take: If this sounds familiar to you, thank you for being a regular reader of MacDailyNews!

Obviously, Jony Ive helped turn Apple into what it is today. Yes, by the end of his time at Apple, he got a little weird and seemed more than a little bored/distracted, but his myriad contributions to Apple over many years cannot be overstated!MacDailyNews, November 21, 2019

Those who panic over the exit of Jony Ive need not do so. Again, given Jony’s state of mind and his autonomous position with Apple, his departure is a net positive for the company.MacDailyNews, July 7, 2019

Hey, Jony: Enough with the thin. Everything is thin enough. Sometimes too thin. Thinner isn’t the answer to everything, nor is thinness intrinsic to good design. We’d gladly take a bit more robustness and battery life over more unnecessary thinness, thanks.MacDailyNews, June 25, 2018

We’ve had to endure years of inferior keyboards in order to shave off half a millimeter about which no one not named Jony gave a rat’s ass.MacDailyNews, April 2, 2019

Tim Cook can protest all we wants, but the fact of the matter is that if Jony Ive were fully engaged and intellectually challenged, he’d still be an Apple employee.MacDailyNews, July 1, 2019

The law of diminishing returns can also be applied to industrial design. Apple’s eternal quest for thinness eventually runs into issues such as bulging camera assemblies, battery capacity, strength (breakability), etc. – is Apple’s quest for thinness now bordering on the quixotic? So, is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?”MacDailyNews, December 21, 2015

Before you read the rest of these more scathing 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.

Enough dicking around with doorknobs. Let’s have some serious Jobsian focus on the customers’ experience again, please! — MacDailyNews, May 7, 2018


  1. The last couple of years, Apple’s lack of focus has resulted in incoherent industrial design and declining software quality. The person responsible for the former is gone. Maybe it’s time to make the personal responsible for the latter accountable as well. I know one pro photographer, who’s been a long time Apple user and has been writing about Apple’s software rot for the past few years, would like that to happen.

    ““Ship it first, then test it” — seemingly Tim Cook’s philosophy. The buck stops with him but the Apple Core Rot surely is festering a level down with Mr F. I cannot print the private information I am aware of that leads me to say this with justification, but until Mr F is fired, it isn’t going to improve. And if Mr Cook doesn’t do that, then he bears FULL responsibility. Well, he already does—this has gone on since 2013. Enough is enough Mr Cook—get your act together and start showing some respect for customers!”


  2. The iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Air Pods were original designs. The only original design I see in Apple’s upcoming pipeline are the Apple Glasses. I imagine that Apple is working on health connected items, such as smart insulin pumps, in conjunction with medical suppliers, but I don’t think those are mainline commercial products . . . As the world heads more toward software and AI, and hardware becomes secondary, what is the role of an industrial designer? . . . I’m sure Jonny Ive has had that conversation, and he probably has more autonomy to pursue esoteric designs with his own firm.

  3. Every day I thank God that Ive has been pushed out of Apple. He had become deranged with some of THE most ridiculous designs imaginable. I blame him and Tim Cook for the near complete destruction of the Mac. It will take Apple years and far better and more inspiring leadership than the feckless Tim Cook can ever give for the Mac to recover and reach for greatness once again.

  4. Well, two can play the “iCal’ed game”. After patting yourself on the back for “… since we discuss what’s really going on with Apple, not just what Apple wants you to hear …” opinions, let’s do a little bit more traveling down memory lane.

    In a May 27, 2015 MDN article titled, “Jony Ive is Apple’s new Steve Jobs” which was published at the height of MDN’s promotion of Jony Ive over Tim Cook (which MDN constantly found something about Cook’s performance as CEO of Apple to complain about), we can find this bit of “cloudy crystal ball gazing” in links by MDN’s staff over the years.

    “Apple has figured out a new way to work and Jony Ive’s new role is the answer”.

    From “What happens when Steve Jobs dies?”, we read this opinion. “Right now, it looks like Apple’s best hope, and a very good one at that, is Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Vice President of Industrial Design … Whether he has the extremely rare “vision thing” that Jobs possesses; well, that’s still an open question.”

    However, give credit where credit is due – at least MDN hedged their overwhelming positive Jony Ive endorsement for CEO bets over the years with that bit of insight. Apparently, Tim Cook isn’t doing too bad a job after all as CEO.

    1. Tim Cook is only doing well if you focus on the financials and nothing else. If you are only interested in Apple because of the financials then Tim Cook is your man and you should stand firmly behind him.

      The hazard with the iPhone and the iPad is the same as that of the Mac in the early 90s. In the parts of the late 80s and early 90s Apple was selling more personal computers than any other company: more than Dell, more than Compaq, more than IBM, more than HP. Then Sculley decided to focus on having 50 different variants of the Mac, have 10 different product lines (remember the Pippin or the QuickTake camera?), and to not do Pink. When Windows 95 came and Apple was still shipping System 7.x as its flagship Mac operating system, the Mac’s dark days were guaranteed.

      Given Cook’s focus on financials rather than better products, what happens if Alphabelt comes out with an OS that sets up the “Windows 95 versus System 7” comparison?

      1. It’s Cook’s job to focus on the financials.
        Maybe we’ve reached an innovation plateau and the next few years should be used to hone where we are at now. Lots of complaints about the way things are here.
        Eventually some new revolutionary “device” will surface but I would put my money on the ecosystem which is more revolutionary than I think most people realize.

  5. There is no doubt in my mind that there is reason to celebrate Ive’s brilliance through his contributions to the excellent industrial design that Apple has delivered with its products over the decades that I’ve been a customer. And yet I still constantly experience frustration with tiny, overlooked details in Apple design that – especially now that I’m over 40 and my eyesight is declining – seem like glaring oversights.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve tried to charge my Apple TV remote by trying to insert the lightning connector in the little, black plastic point at the top of the remote where the IR is transmitted. It appears identical in size to the actual port at the opposite end on a remote itself whose overall design does not immediately suggest which is the top or bottom. Similarly, the charging disc for Apple watches is too subtle in telling you at arm’s length which side is the correct one for changing. It could easily have been made a different color, rather than rely on such a subtle concave indent. And as much as it is a clever idea that the iPad’s cover origami can transform it from a flat cover into a triangular stand, the latter has never been strong enough to hold the iPad very reliably and every iteration has been a promised delivered already broken. I won’t even mention the number of times I’ve scraped fingers and hands by accidentally brushing them past the sharp edges of my iMacs.

    I wasn’t happy to read of Ive’s departure from Apple. But I say that only as a customer and shareholder with little knowledge of the actual circumstances. I guess I just hope Apple will continue to lead the industry in it’s embrace of the innovative use of cutting edge materials, but also that they will do better with some of these boneheaded details that seem incongruous based on their history and resources.

  6. I think Ive’s ego was so devastated to the point he could not handle constructive criticism. Certainly the biggest debacle was the trashcan Mac Pro, thinness obsession and loss of useful ports. The visual assault of iOS 7 icons unfortunately lives to this day and MUST GO. Glad his tone deafness is GONE…

  7. I’m sure Jony is a nice guy and he has some interesting ideas. As a designer, though, he’s a weak imitation of Dieter Rams.

    Here is a perfect example of Ive’s complete lack of being in touch with real-world design needs:


    Ive cared more about hiding the charging port than he did allowing users to charge their mouse while in use. FAIL.

    But there are so many more screw-ups. Power button placement on all iPhones directly across from volume buttons. Lack of Mac repairablity on almost all models. Butterfly keyboards. Trashcans. Self-indulgent silver-edged glamour books. Fragile thin white wires that are instantly dirty and soon broken, white plastic dongles & plugs with no ergonomic gripping surface. iOS7 (and on) flat illegible hideousness. The non-Apple related extracurricular BS from xmas trees to insanely overpriced alyooominyum tables. The list goes on. Jony lost his cool at least a decade ago. Every dime Apple shareholders wasted on him has been lost to warranty fixes that a good designer making durable easy-to-repair products could have avoided. Good riddance to Jony. If he wasn’t pushed, that shows what a weak loser of a beancounter leader Cook is.

  8. Speaking of horrid design, the era of sans serif everything truly sucks: /lIi|1!\

    See a similarity between each of the above characters? They are all different, but with the current crop of shitty sans serif fonts that are all the vogue, they are largely indistinguishable from each other at rapid glance. IIlegitimate, MilliIliter — misspeII those words and nobody cares because nobody can see it. No wonder Tweeters can’t spell.

    Anyone with less than ideal eyesight strains to read the skinny plain fonts you now see everywhere. It doesn’t have to be this way. Once upon a time, there was this guy at Apple who believed in offering beautiful LEGIBLE font options. At the beginning, the Macintosh default font was a highly legible Apple Garamond. Those were good days, a big leap past the simple fonts that Susan Kare had to create for the Apple ][ due to display and printing tech limitations.

    What a shame that efforts to squeeze everything onto an iOS display and later onto a watchface has resulted in such a sub-par one size fits all offering, using first the terrible Helvetica Neue and now San Francisco. (Actually now 4 corporate fonts: SF Pro, SF Compact, SF Mono, and New York. In a word: fragmentation. Go to Apple’s font page and they don’t even provide samples of the font on the screen! https://developer.apple.com/fonts/) Interestingly, One also can’t select it for your documents or find it in the Mac Font Book. So either Apple doesn’t believe this typeface is ideal for its users, or it doesn’t want its users to have the most legible font. Thankfully the former is true. Apple simply wanted a font on which they didn’t have to play royalties which would fit on a 38mm diagonal screen.

    One wonders how much Apple paid Ive to tweak & merge Adobe Myriad / Helvetica / Roboto fonts into the current boring “San Francisco” sans serif font.

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