Jony Ive’s officially announced a departure last week, but according to the WSJ, a narrative is forming to suggest that he’s been slowly exiting for years as the company shifted priorities from product design to operations.
Ive reportedly started showing up at Apple’s offices less often after the release of the Watch. Rather than an iPhone peripheral, Ive saw it was a fashion accessory, clashing with Apple executives over how to position it. The resulting device, at $349, sold only 10 million units, while “thousands” of copies of the $17,000 gold version went unsold.
The reports describe an Apple design team, led by Jony Ive, increasingly frustrated by his absence after the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015. They tell the story of a company that once put design at the forefront, progressively being led by operational concerns. Ive’s absence was “straining the cohesion central to product development,” according to the WSJ, causing several key design team members to leave Apple over the last few years.
Here are some of the highlights from The Wall Street Journal piece that’s well worth a read in full:
- Ive was “dispirited” by Tim Cook who “showed little interest in the product development process,” according to sources speaking to the WSJ. This helps explain why Cook, who comes from operations, sometimes appears to be seeing products for the first time in the hands-on area after Apple events (like the photo at the top of this article).
- Ive grew increasingly frustrated as Apple’s board was populated by directors with backgrounds unrelated to the company’s core business.
- Apple will pay Ive’s new firm LoveFrom “millions of dollars a year to continue to work with Apple.”
- Ive disagreed with “some Apple leaders” on how to position the Apple Watch. Ive pushed for the Apple Watch to be sold as a fashion accessory, not as an extension of the iPhone. The product that went on sale was a compromise. Apple only sold a quarter of what the company forecasted in the first year, according to the WSJ, with “thousands” of the $17,000 gold Apple Watch Edition left unsold.
- The design team will continue working on AR glasses “that would give users visual displays of messages and maps.”
- Engineers found that the doomed AirPower charging pad “behaved more like a dorm-room hot plate, heating up loose change and failing to evenly recharge devices.”
Credits: The Wall Street Journal