There’s been something messianic about Apple ever since the second coming of Steve Jobs exactly 22 years ago, almost to the week. But the
But the two did hit it off immediately. As
Now, it emerges, Jony Ive is leaving Apple, although the company will become a client of Ive’s new design studio, LoveFrom. The news came as a bombshell to industry watchers. Despite rumours over the years, the announcement was certainly not expected any time soon.
You’re either in or you’re out
Veteran Apple watcher John Gruber has written at length on this development and his views always carry a lot of weight. You can read the full article here.
However, Gruber clearly isn’t impressed by the confirmation that Apple will maintain the association by retaining Ive’s new design company:
”This angle that he’s still going to work with Apple as an independent design firm seems like pure spin. You’re either at Apple or you’re not. Ive is out.”
Despite Ive’s all-encompassing contribution to Apple’s success over the past 20 years, Gruber takes a balanced view of the departure.
“This may be good news. Ive is, to state the obvious, preternaturally talented. But in the post-Jobs era, with all of Apple design, hardware and software, under his control, we’ve seen the software design decline and the hardware go wonky. I don’t know the inside the story, but it certainly seems like a good bet that MacBook keyboard fiasco we’re still in the midst of is the direct result of Jony Ive’s obsession with device thinness and minimalism. Today’s MacBooks are worse computers but more beautiful devices than the ones they replaced. Is that directly attributable to Jony Ive? With these keyboards in particular, I believe the answer is yes.”
Yet the news that Ive’s responsibilities will devolve on two design team leaders, Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, doesn’t fill Gruber with confidence:
“I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Jony Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.”
Whatever the backstory, Jony Ive’s synergy with Steve Jobs and the unprecedented turnaround of an ailing company to become the world’s most valuable enterprise, is one for the history books. Personally, I’m sorry to see Jony Ive go, but an amicable departure of this nature is preferable to an acrimonious split. And it has been on the cards for several years.
My concern now is that Apple doesn’t have a stand-out talent on the books. Tim Cook and his team have done a great job of managing and developing the company, but there is no longer that one figure for the faithful to worship.
The past 22 years have seen Apple rise meteorically thanks to a series of product and service innovations which truly transformed technology.
Jony Ive, always supported by Steve Jobs, has been instrumental in creating this success. The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook Air, the Apple Watch, the AirPods, have all set the agenda for the tech industry.
And the App Store concept and associated services completely transformed the way we interact with our computers, removing the nerdy aspect of buying and upgrading, backing up and managing data.
Apple replaced all these pitfalls with a
Perhaps Apple is now big enough and tough enough not to need a single figurehead who can drive design forward. Indeed, as Gruber points out, the lead times are so great that we will be seeing Ive-inspired products arriving for perhaps as long as five more years.
As always, though, with such monumental changes, there must be some disquiet and a nagging suspicion that the party might just be over.
I certainly don’t think so, but I wish Jony