Posts tagged with "Jony Ive"

The End of the Genius Era

Excellent piece by Dieter Bohn at The Verge following news of Jony Ive’s coming departure from Apple:

While Apple might have a good story about having been founded in a garage, the true founding myth of Apple is the myth of genius. You know the fable, which has the benefit of also being true. When Steve Jobs was in charge, Apple made amazing things: the Apple computer, the Mac. Jobs not in charge: the very bad ‘90s with Scully and the Newton. Jobs back in charge: the renaissance, the iPod, the iPhone.

After Steve Jobs, that mantle was passed to Jony Ive. And he quietly (quite literally) took it. It was important to our concept of Apple that there be a single, discerning decision maker. Somebody uncompromising about quality. Somebody with very good taste. A capital G Genius.

Bohn makes the case, based on solid evidence from other sources, that Apple has operated for years without being driven by a singular “genius” but rather a collaborative, highly-capable team – and while that seems to have been more true than ever lately, to a degree it’s always been the case. In spite of the mythos surrounding Steve Jobs, responsibility for Apple’s best work falls not just on his shoulders, but on that of the team he was surrounded by.

Ive’s absence will certainly be felt, but the hole he leaves is likely much smaller than his “legend” would imply. As Bohn remarks, “we should stop thinking of Apple as the singular expression of one person’s genius. History has moved beyond the Great Man theory, and so too should our ideas about how Apple operates.”


The End of the Ive Era

Great piece by John Gruber on Jony Ive leaving Apple and the end of the Ive era at Apple:

I think Tim Cook is a great CEO and Jeff Williams is a great COO. But who’s in charge of product design now? There is no new chief design officer, which, really, is what Steve Jobs always was. From a product standpoint, the post-Jobs era at Apple has been the Jony Ive era, not the Tim Cook era. That’s not a knock on Tim Cook. To his credit, Tim Cook has never pretended to be a product guy, which is exactly the hubris that John Sculley succumbed to back in the early ’90s, leading to the Newton being launched far before it was ready and the Macintosh platform languishing.

My gut sense for years has been that Ive without Jobs has been like McCartney without Lennon. Or Lennon without McCartney — take whichever analogical pairing you prefer. My point here is only that the fruit of their collaborations were, seemingly magically, far greater than the sums of the duos’ talents and tastes.

Assuming Ive’s exit has been planned for a while, it makes little sense to me that Apple’s new design leaders (Hankey and Dye) are reporting to Jeff Williams, the company’s chief operating officer – unless Apple has bigger plans for him in the near future. Then again, Gruber’s point still holds: who’s Apple’s Chief Design Officer now?


Jony Ive to Leave Apple to Form New Design Firm and Sabih Khan Named SVP of Operations

Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times dropped a bombshell: Jony Ive is leaving Apple to start his own design firm called LoveFrom, and Apple will be its first client. Ive told Bradshaw:

While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come,” Sir Jonathan told the FT in an exclusive interview. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.

Ive’s transition from his role as Apple Chief Design Officer where he oversees the design of both hardware and software to his new company will begin later this year with LoveFrom launching in 2020. Marc Newson who has collaborated with Ive in the past will join him as part of the LoveFrom design team. In addition to continuing ongoing projects for Apple, Ive told the Financial Times he would work on unspecified ‘personal passions.’

Ive has led Apple’s design team since 1996 and is responsible for the company’s iconic product designs like the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. He also guided the design and construction of Apple Park. In a press release issued by Apple, Tim Cook said:

Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built. After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.

Apple has not announced a replacement for Ive. Instead, the company’s press release says that design team leaders Evans Hankey, Vice President of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, Vice President of Human Interface Design, will report to Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams. Of the design team, Ive had this to say:

After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” said Ive. “The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

Separately, Apple announced that it has named Sabih Kahn as joined the company’s executive team as Senior Vice President of Operations. In a press release, Apple said that Khan who has been at the company since the mid-90s:

will be in charge of Apple’s global supply chain, ensuring product quality and overseeing planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics and product fulfillment functions, as well as Apple’s supplier responsibility programs that protect and educate workers at production facilities around the world.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Williams:

Sabih leads our Ops team with heart,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “He and his entire worldwide team are committed to delivering unmatched experiences to our customers, treating workers everywhere with dignity and respect, and protecting the environment for future generations.

I’ve been privileged to work with Sabih for more than 20 years, and you won’t find a more talented operations executive anywhere on the planet,” said Williams. “He is a world-class leader and collaborator, and I have no doubt that he will be the best leader of the Ops team in Apple’s history.

This is a surprising turn of events. Ive will continue to work with Apple, but it clearly won’t be his sole focus anymore. He’s left a lasting imprint on Apple over the course of almost three decades and is leaving behind design team led by Apple veterans, which leaves the company in good hands. Still, it’s a shame to see Ive go.

The addition of Kahn to the leadership team who, along with the company’s two design leads, will report to Jeff Williams is interesting too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams is being groomed to take over as CEO someday.