By now you probably already heard the news on Ive’s departure from Apple as they were all over the Internet since last Thursday.
Ive establishes a new company called LoveForm, which will have Apple as its primary client.
I don’t agree with the Apple is doomed scenario. Apple has been working with external companies for many years now. From ads with TBWA\Chiat\Day, just to name the iconic Think Different or iPod campaigns, Apple Stores (Foster + Partners), or even hardware (Frog Design) – all of these were created with the help from people outside the company. What’s more, if even a small part of a company Apple’s size is dependent on the knowledge or skill of a single person, it means it’s rather poorly managed. The goal is to lower the bus factor. As harsh as it may sound, everyone is replaceable.
As we now know from Mark Gurman’s report, Ive’s departure actually began nearly 4 years ago, in 2015:
But after the Watch launched in 2015, Ive began to shed responsibilities. Day-to-day oversight of Apple’s design team was reduced to coming to headquarters as little as twice a week, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified discussing private details.
It’s obvious that although Ive was the face of their every major product, he didn’t work by himself, but rather as a part of a very strong team. I’m sure there are a lot of talented designers working at Apple, and their upcoming products are in good hands.
Ive’s leaving is not unsurprising, though. Thanks to the press release, we know that Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, the current leaders of the design team, will report to Jeff Williams, COO. As John Gruber rightly points out, it feels wrong – especially with such a design-driven company as Apple – that the design team reports to the operating officer.
It makes me queasy to see that Apple’s chief designers are now reporting to operations. This makes no more sense to me than having them report to the LLVM compiler team in the Xcode group. Again, nothing against Jeff Williams, nothing against the LLVM team, but someone needs to be in charge of design for Apple to be Apple and I can’t see how that comes from operations. I don’t think that “chief design officer” should have been a one-off title created just for Jony Ive. Not just for Apple, but especially at Apple, it should be a permanent C-level title. I don’t think Ive ever should have been put in control of software design, but at least he is a designer.
I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Jony Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.
Another angle on that story is provided by opinions that this news is possibly good. In his comment for The Verge, Dieter Bohn has some great arguments about the genius vs committee approach when it comes to the design and more importantly – the function of a given product. Take a look – it’s a well-written and thoughtful story.
One thing goes without saying: during his time at Apple, Ive created a lot of iconic products that shaped not only this one company, but also the entire industry. It is safe to say, as many commentators already did, that this is the end of an era.
On last Monday Apple released the first public betas of iOS 13, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS Catalina. Meaning, you can now install them without a need of a developer account. Take a look if you want some thrill of using yet not final software, but first take your time to do a backup of your devices. Better safe than sorry.
On Mac you can definitely minimise the risk by installing beta on a separate device, be it USB stick or external disk. Or if you want to take it easy, just check this enormous overview of Catalina by Daniel Eran Dilger on appleinsider.com.
Mark Gurman and Ian King reporting for Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. hired one of ARM Holdings Inc.’s top chip engineers as the iPhone maker looks to expand its own chip development to more powerful devices, including the Mac, and new categories like a headset. (…)
At ARM, Filippo was a lead engineer behind chip designs that power the vast majority of the world’s smartphones and tablets and was leading a new push into parts for computers. (…)
Prior to his work at ARM, Filippo was also a key designer at chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. ARM confirmed Filippo’s departure. (…)
For Apple, the hire could help fill the void left by the departure of Gerard Williams III earlier this year. Williams was Apple’s head architect of chips used in the iPhone and iPad.