The reasons why Jony Ive, the legendary chief designer, left Apple

A highly anticipated book will shed light on what happened at Apple after the death of Steve Jobs. The latest New York Times article focuses precisely on the events that alienated Jony Ive, Apple’s legendary chief designer.

Jony Ive and Tim Cook during the presentation of the iPhone XR in 2018 // Source: Apple

If you don’t follow Apple news, know that a highly anticipated book is coming out this week, it’s called: After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul. You can find it for 25 euros at Amazon France.

This is a book written by a New York Times journalist, Tripp Mickle, which tells the evolution of Apple after the death, in 2011, of its founder Steve Jobs. The title quite clearly suggests the overall tone of the book, and apparently quite accurately represents the thinking of Jony Ive, the company’s legendary head designer, which ultimately led to his decision to leave to start his own business.

While waiting to get his hands on this book, Tripp Mickle published an article on the NYT (“ How technocrats triumphed at Apple“), based on the book, which focuses precisely on the events that separated Jony Ive from Apple, first philosophically and then more concretely.

Disputes with Tim Cook

The concise explanation is that, regardless of their mutual respect, Jony Ive and Tim Cook (Apple’s current CEO) saw things differently on a number of key topics.

For Jony Ive, design has always been the top priority, you might say, while Tim Cook has had a more pragmatic and usage-oriented approach. Whether we are talking about the recent Mac Studio or the latest MacBooks with all these ports (and the memory card reader!), it seems that we are now far from the designer’s passion for the clean and minimalist lines of the products that he created. It is one of the most emblematic examples, but the first fractures date back to 2014, when the Apple Watch was launched.

The reasons why Jony Ive, the legendary chief designer, left Apple
Apple Mac Studio // Source: Frandroid

For Jony Ive, the Apple Watch had to be a luxury product. He had imagined an extremely lavish presentation, comparable to a haute couture parade, in a white pavilion which cost 25 million dollars. The goal was to impress the Vogue reporter more than any other tech pundit. Tim Cook agreed, but only up to a point, and a long series of arguments then led to Jony Ive feeling unsupported by his own company for the first time.

Over the years, as we know, the Apple Watch has become a relatively popular and mainstream product, and has become more and more focused on fitness and health, with luxury versions becoming more and more popular. marginalized.

The Apple Watch Series 7
The Apple Watch Series 7 // Source: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Tim Cook has always tried to please or please Jony Ive as much as possible because he feared his departure would have a serious impact on Apple’s share value. At the same time, however, Jony Ive was increasingly stressed due to the significant increase in his workload following the departure of Steve Jobs, when he became full director of the design division.

Almost overnight, he found himself managing more than 100 employees, up from a team of 20 he had been managing for years. Tim Cook attempted to offer a compromise by allowing him to work part-time and from home, abandoning day-to-day management duties and focusing solely on designing new products. But in the end it didn’t work out, and at the end of 2019 the creator of the iPod, iPhone and iPad said goodbye to the company he had worked for since 1992.

Jony Ive also didn’t like Apple’s transition to a services company. The chief designer complained that the company was hiring corporate executives or, as he called them, ” accountants“. The sad truth is that Jony Ive’s presence was less necessary at the new Apple. Although his work has been instrumental in building Apple’s success, the American group has changed a lot.

Jony Ive’s lack of interest resulted in the famous meeting to define the final design of the iPhone X. After three hours of waiting, the top twenty software designers presented Jony Ive with the new features of the smartphone. In the end, he left the room without giving feedback to the teams.

The reasons why Jony Ive, the legendary chief designer, left Apple
Apple iPhone X

Currently, Jony Ive is still working for Apple from his own agency named LoveFrom. But his emblematic client is now Ferrari. An electric car could be Jony Ive’s next big thing, but we’re going to have to wait until at least 2025.


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