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

The British equity market is shrinking
Stockmarkets

The British equity market is shrinking

British startups are abandoning public stockmarkets and turning to deep-pocketed Silicon Valley venture capitalists for their investment needs.
8 Nov 2019
Robin Geffen: dividend cuts aren't all down to Covid
Stockmarkets

Robin Geffen: dividend cuts aren't all down to Covid

The seeds of recent dividend cuts and cancellations were sowed many years ago, says veteran investor Robin Geffen.
25 Oct 2020
Dividend payments will take a long time to recover
Income investing

Dividend payments will take a long time to recover

Companies are gradually resuming dividend payouts, but we can expect only a modest rebound in 2021, says Cris Sholto Heaton.
25 Oct 2020
“Big Finance” comes out of its decade-long slump as bankers bounce back
Stockmarkets

“Big Finance” comes out of its decade-long slump as bankers bounce back

The financial sector was hammered by the crisis of 2008. Now, bankers are rediscovering their swagger, says Matthew Lynn.
25 Oct 2020

Most Popular

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020
UK post-Covid recovery stocks: these 20 companies could be set to rocket
Share tips

UK post-Covid recovery stocks: these 20 companies could be set to rocket

Finding stocks with the potential to rise tenfold or even further is far easier said than done. But the pandemic has produced the most promising backd…
22 Oct 2020
Big spending government is here to stay – just ask Rishi Sunak
UK Economy

Big spending government is here to stay – just ask Rishi Sunak

Governments around the world are splashing huge amounts of cash as they do “whatever it takes” to prop up their economies. John Stepek looks at where …
23 Oct 2020