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Why Jonathan Ive Is Leaving Apple


Apple’s Industrial Design team has long
been admired for their incredible work in a variety of product categories. In fact, their exceptional talent has earned
them the title of the most awarded design studio in the world. And nearly every Apple fan knows the face
of their design team; Jonathan Ive. He’s been with the company since September
of 1992, and deserves credit for some of their most iconic product designs. But after 27 years of working exclusively
for Apple, Jonathan Ive has decided to leave the company at the end of the year and create
his own independent design firm called LoveFrom. This move has left everyone in the tech community
speculating as to why he left Apple and what his decision means for the future of the company’s
design team. This is Greg with Apple Explained and I want
to thank Ting for sponsoring this video. If you want to help decide which topics I
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feed. So if you’ve been following the news about
Jonathan Ive leaving Apple, you’ve probably seen very similar comments and articles as
when Steve Jobs resigned in 2011. Things like this, “And that, my friends,
is how the story ends.” “Beginning of the end of Apple.” “I think this is not good news for Apple’s
future.” “Why now? I think they’re not telling us something. Some internal battle or debate we don’t
know about.” And that last quote was the first reaction
of many news outlets and pundits, who made the assumption that something must be wrong
with Apple’s leadership if talented people like Jonathan Ive are leaving. But this theory is founded on nothing but
hearsay, rumors, and speculation. If we consider the observable evidence over
Apple’s history, the truth becomes much clearer, and much less sensational than others
may have you believe. Let’s start by pointing out that no one
from Apple’s original design team formed in 1991 is still with the company today. There’ve always been people leaving and
joining the team, under Jobs leadership and Cook’s leadership. We also have to consider that all of our attention
is placed on Apple’s small Industrial Design group of 20-22 members. Despite the fact that there are literally
hundreds of other product designers at Apple not part of that small exclusive team. And when one person leaves Apple’s Industrial
Design group, it tends to create a domino effect of others following suit. It happened in 2000 when five people left
the team in close proximity, and again earlier this year when three people announced their
departure followed by Jonathan Ive himself in June. And Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson
certainly didn’t help the situation when he went on CNBC and said, “In my book, Steve
says how Tim Cook can do everything, and then he looked at me and said, ‘Tim’s not a
product person.’” He later went on to say, “Sometimes Steve,
when he was in pain and it was problematic and he was angry, he would say more things
than [Cook] was not a product person. I felt I would put in the specific things
that were relevant to the reader but not the complaints.” Those comments quickly fueled the fire that
the Wall Street Journal had ignited just a week earlier with their article titled “Jony
Ive Is Leaving Apple, but His Departure Started Long Ago.” And just by simply reading the sub-header
you get a clear picture of the article’s argument. It reads, “Design chief helped create some
of the world’s best-known products, but grew distant as the company shifted focus
under CEO Tim Cook.” The implication being that Apple’s focus
has changed since Steve Jobs death. But if you saw my video last week titled “Why
Apple Has NOT Changed” you’ll understand that the Wall Street Journal’s article is
false, or at least extremely misleading. Because if you were aware of Steve Jobs temper
and personality, it would come as no surprise that he uses quite pointed language when frustrated
or angry. He was also known for having a certain opinion
one day, and completely changing his position a few days later. So you’ll likely find much more truth in
his actions rather than his words. And when it came to Jobs actions in regard
to Tim Cook, the evidence is unmistakable. Jobs actually poached Cook while he was working
at Compaq in 1998 and persuaded him to work for Apple, despite the company floundering
and being at serious risk of bankruptcy. To any rational person, leaving Compaq, one
of the leading tech companies at time, to join Apple, a sinking ship, was career suicide. And this is what Cook later said about the
decision, “no more than five minutes into my initial interview with Steve, I wanted
to throw caution and logic to the wind and join Apple. My intuition already knew that joining Apple
was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius, and to be on the
executive team that could resurrect a great American company.” Many people give Steve Jobs all the credit
for bringing Apple back from near bankruptcy in the late 90s, but even Jobs himself admitted
the achievement was a team effort that wouldn’t’ve happened without the talents and expertise
of people like Cook. And when is comes to allegations of Tim Cook
shifting Apple’s focus from hardware to operations or not being a quote “product
person,” just take one look at what Apple has accomplished with Cook as CEO. He spearheaded the Apple Watch project which
was not only one of the most complex projects from an operations perspective, but also one
of the most successful products from a hardware perspective. The Apple Watch has dominated the industry
with 51% market share in the fourth quarter of 2018, and no other product is even close
to catching up. The AirPods were developed under Cooks leadership
and has become a global phenomenon. In fact, revenue from the Apple Watch and
AirPods combine recently surpassed the iPad. Which is quite an achievement considering
the original iPad was the fastest selling product in Apple’s history. Now I say all that about Tim Cook in order
to make it clear that Jonathan Ive didn’t leave Apple because he felt they were no longer
a product-driven company or because he had problems with their leadership, which is what
many people are claiming. And this can be proven by comparing Apple’s
hardware today with that of the mid 90’s, when Apple’s leadership truly valued making
cheap products rather than great design. And this quote from May-Li Khoe in an interview
she did with Rene Ritchie said it all. She said, “it’s about the organization
support around the design team much more than it is about whether or not there’s creativity
or great designers inside the organization.” And I think that’s an incredibly important
distinction that many people don’t consider. Jonathan Ive was working under poor management
in the 90s before Steve Jobs return to Apple. He admitted to feeling uninspired and defeated
since the leadership was forcing the design team to simply fit as much technology into
cheap beige boxes as possible. And the hardware Apple produced during that
period was exactly that, cheap and uninspired. But it wasn’t for lack of talent or creativity,
it was due to poor support and management. That’s absolutely not the case today. Apple is still producing products with incredible
hardware and maintains an environment conducive to great industrial design. So then what are some possible reasons why
Jonathan Ive decided to leave? Well, I think there are a few explanations. As I mentioned at the beginning of the video,
Jonathan Ive has been working for Apple for 27 years. It’s where he established his reputation
as one of the world’s leading designers and how he became well-known. But over the past decade we’ve seen Ive
express interest in designing products outside of the tech industry. In 2013 he partnered with Marc Newson to help
design various products for a (RED) charity auction, including a Leica camera and aluminum
desk. In 2018 they teamed up again to create a diamond
ring. And keep in mind Jonathan Ive’s passion
for design started with cars, and he admitted designing computers was something he never
thought he’d do as a young adult. So it isn’t hard to imagine that Jonathan
Ive would like to branch out and get involved with a variety of industrial design projects,
rather than being limited to the scope of Apple products. But what is perhaps more concerning for Apple
fans is what might happen to the company after Jonathan Ive’s departure. And this takes me back to the Steve Jobs situation
back in 2011. When Tim Cook was appointed CEO, Apple’s
stock tanked and article after article was written signaling doom and gloom for the company
since it no longer had the leadership of its iconic founder. But those doomsday predictions aged quite
poorly as Apple went on to become the world’s first trillion dollar company thanks to the
success of new products like the iPhone X, which were released under Cook. And I suspect history will repeat itself when
it comes to Jonathan Ive. You see, the ethos of Apple is much bigger
than one person. It didn’t go away when Jobs left in 2011,
and it won’t go away when Ive leaves later this year. In fact, I think Jonathan Ive had much more
time to prepare for his departure than Jobs, and the team he’s leaving behind is not
only well trained and talented, but it’s organized in a way that fosters great design. Also, the woman taking over for Jonathan Ive,
Evans Hankey, has worked alongside I’ve on products like the iPhone and iMac, and
has over 300 patents to her name. She has an incredible reputation within Apple
and she will certainly be a fantastic Vice President of Industrial Design. It’s also worth mentioning that Jonathan
Ive will still be involved with Apple’s design team since they’ll be his firm’s
first client. So while it can be scary to see iconic figures
like Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive leave the Apple, it’s important to understand that
the company doesn’t die simply from their absence. As long as Apple continues to make incredible
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