The Wall Street Journal recently published an article outlining how legendary Apple designer Jony Ive grew distant from the firm under the new “operations-focused” direction of CEO Tim Cook.
The Wall Street Journal writes in an article titled “Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple, but His Departure Started Long Ago,” that Apple designer Jony Ive has had his doubts about the company ever since the death of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and subsequent takeover by now-CEO Tim Cook. Ive’s presence at the company in recent months is described by the Journal, depicting a design chief with one foot out the door of the company.
The Journal describes one meeting Ives had with the Apple design team, stating:
that afternoon in January 2017, the group of about 20 designers stood around waiting for Mr. Ive to show, according to people familiar with the episode. After he arrived and listened to the presentations, he left without ruling on their key questions, leaving attendees frustrated.
“Many of us were thinking: How did it come to this?” said a person at the meeting. There was a sense “Jony was gone but reluctant to hand over the reins.”
The episode was emblematic of a widening disconnect at the top of Apple that, invisible outside the company, was eroding the product magic created by Mr. Ive and the late Steve Jobs that helped turn Apple into America’s pre-eminent corporation.
The Journal believes that many of Apple’s current issues may be a result of Ive’s lack of interest in the firm, with his plans to leave to focus on his own design firm LoveFrom only making matters worse:
Mr. Ive, 52, withdrew from routine management of Apple’s elite design team, leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures, people close to the company say.
The internal drama explains a lot about Apple’s dilemma. Its one major new product of the post-Jobs era, the Apple Watch, made its debut five years ago. Its iPhone business is faltering, and more recent releases like its wireless AirPods haven’t been enough to shore up falling sales. It hasn’t had a megahit new product since the iPad that started selling in 2010.
Many noted that Ive had become increasingly frustrated as Apple’s board seats were occupied with individuals with backgrounds in business and finance, not design and technology. Despite a significant pay package, which was a point of conflict for many other executives, Ive did not appear happy at the company. Combined with his own personal issues, it’s no surprise that Ive has chosen to move on:
On Thursday, Mr. Ive convened the user interface and industrial designers in their new, unified workspace at Apple Park. He explained he was leaving and answered questions. The intimate event felt like a family gathering and was a fitting way for the design chief to say goodbye, said one person in attendance.
Mr. Ive’s old design team—a group of aesthetes once thought of as gods inside Apple—will report to COO Jeff Williams, a mechanical engineer with an M.B.A.