Jony Ive, Apple’s design guru, departs

Jony Ive, the designer of the iMac and iPhone is leaving Apple. The news comes at a difficult time. Matthew Partridge reports.

Apple chief design officer Jony Ive (L) and Apple CEO Tim Cook © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Is Jony Ive's (left) exit Tim Cook's fault?

With the departure of design guru Jony Ive Apple is "getting a taste of luxury's less lustrous side", says Tom Buerkle on Breakingviews. Ive and his "sleek" designs have "defined the marriage of style and function" at Apple, starting with his iconic design for the Apple iMac in 1998, which was credited with helping turning around the company's fortunes. Ive then "repeated the trick" with the iPhone, which "ushered in the smartphone age and enabled Apple to charge ever-higher premium prices, much like a Paris fashion label". However, just as many fashion houses have struggled after losing their chief designer, replacing Ive might be a "painful process".

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has only himself to blame for the loss of the company's main creative force, says Tripp Mickle in The Wall Street Journal. Despite running "what was arguably the most successful design operation in business history", Ive had been growing "frustrated" by the fact that Apple's board "became increasingly populated by directors with backgrounds in finance and operations rather than technology or other areas of the company's core business". This in turn prompted him to withdraw from day-to-day management of the design team "leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakenedby a string of departures".

It's not fair to blame Cook, says Mark Gurman on Bloomberg. Ive's departure "has been a long time in the making" . Having been at Apple for more than 25 years, it was inevitable he would eventually choose to stand down from what has been a "really taxing job". The idea of doing "incremental upgrades" to a mature product line may have looked increasingly unattractive. In any case, Ive may not have been the best person to carry Apple forward, since any new products "will require fundamental technological innovation, not just the design genius of Ive and his team".

Is Apple past its sell-by date?

It's true that Apple faces a "daunting" challenge says the Financial Times. Still, "fresh thinking and new blood can do a company good" as Ive himself proved during the 1990s. Many experts have argued that Apple needs to end its "hardware addiction" and work on its services. There are signs of progress: with "the new Apple TV+ streaming service and a games subscription package called Apple Arcade", the company seems to be focusing on creating "an ecosystem including apps, virtual assistants and more".

Recommended

Think Tesla is a bubble? This might be the best way to bet on it bursting
Oil

Think Tesla is a bubble? This might be the best way to bet on it bursting

The huge rise in Tesla’s share price means that, by market value, it’s now the sixth-largest company in the US and and the world’s biggest car-maker. …
25 Jan 2021
Three clean energy stocks for your portfolio
Share tips

Three clean energy stocks for your portfolio

Professional investor Christian Roessing of the Pictet Clean Energy Fund highlights of his three favourite stocks at the forefront of the clean energy…
25 Jan 2021
The MoneyWeek Podcast: let's talk about bubbles
Stockmarkets

The MoneyWeek Podcast: let's talk about bubbles

Merryn and John talk about the many obvious signs of a bubble in certain assets, including tech stocks, TikTok, and stock-trading 12-year olds. It's c…
22 Jan 2021
Eternal growth: how to invest in the future of the drinks industry
Share tips

Eternal growth: how to invest in the future of the drinks industry

Humans have been dabbling in tasty beverages for millennia. Jonathan Compton assesses the key trends in the sector and recommends seven hard- and soft…
22 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021
House prices

Why we won’t see a house-price crash in 2021

Lockdown sent house prices berserk as cooped up home-workers fled for bigger properties in the country. And while they won’t rise quite as much this y…
18 Jan 2021
Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it
Inflation

Inflation is the easiest way out of this – just don’t expect politicians to admit it

The UK government borrowed £34.1bn in December, a record amount for that month. Britain's debt pile now amounts to 100% of GDP. How are we going to pa…
22 Jan 2021
When will the US stockmarket bubble burst?
US stockmarkets

When will the US stockmarket bubble burst?

With US stocks more expensive than before the Wall Street crash of 1929, there are growing signs of “mania”. But what will push markets over the edge?
22 Jan 2021