Ive got a story to tell: Differing views on Apple’s exiting designer

Dedicated eco-terrorist or check-out exec?


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Big news from ye olde iPhone shoppe last week as Apple announced that Jony Ive would be leaving the company to run his own design firm. Get ready to be sprayed in the face with a firehose full of hot takes.

First, let’s go to Vice, where Jason Koebler says “History Will Not Be Kind to Jony Ive.” (Tip o’ the antlers to SamT and @designheretic.) History and Jason Koebler.

And why is that?

He leaves a legacy of pushing [Apple’s] products toward disposability and unrepairability, a choice that has reverberated across the consumer electronics industry.

Koebler has a laundry list of complaints about Apple’s products, from the terrible MacBook Pro keyboard to AirPods, all of which are solely Jony Ive’s fault and…

What’s that?

The Macalope is just being informed by the birds that walk up and down his hairy back and pick off bugs that that we have late breaking news from The Wall Street Journal. Turns out Ive has hardly been involved with anything at Apple for years.

“Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple, but His Departure Started Long Ago.”

Few on the outside knew that for years, Mr. Ive had been growing more distant from Apple’s leadership, say people close to the company. …

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.

So, there you have it. Jony Ive is history’s greatest and laziest monster.

But, wait, we have even laterly breakingly news. Someone at Apple named “Tim Cook” (never heard of him) has shot back at The Journal’s report, calling it “absurd.”

So, Mr. Cook, it would seem, sides with “history’s greatest monster,” then. “Jony was there all the time designing all those devices that are destroying the world as we know it.” OK, good to know.

Look, Ive probably did push Apple’s design toward thinner and thinner devices which can certainly have a detrimental effect on repairability. But it’s not exactly like that that was solely his thing. Steve Jobs, you may recall, famously (and probably apocryphally) drowned an iPod in a fish tank to show there was still air space in it that could be removed. And also to show how much he hated those damn fish, because really you shouldn’t drop lithium-ion batteries into a medium that another creature breaths. The company has relented slightly by making the new Mac mini and Mac Pro more upgradeable. It also, more than any of its competitors, designs its products to retain their useful life longer.

The Macalope doesn’t know if The Journal’s reporting is an accurate portrayal of Ive’s recent tenure at Apple. He suspects there certainly is some truth to it as it’s been rumored for some time that Ive was transitioning out. The piece, however, is punctuated with the same charming misunderstandings about Apple that you find on the actual Wall Street.

[Apple’s] one major new product of the post-Jobs era, the Apple Watch, made its debut five years ago.

That is presumably a “long time” ago. As opposed to the six years between the release of the iPod and the iPhone.

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.

Other companies are lucky if they make hit products. Apple, however, must make “megahits”. Even according to the charts The Journal includes in this piece, the first two years of Apple Watch sales have roughly matched those of the iPhone. AirPods, meanwhile, are selling well enough to have turned into a cultural phenomenon. Apple, however, is continually graded on a hyperbolic curve that says new products must immediately sell in the same quantities of iPhones being shipped now or they’re a failure.

It is amusing to see Ive tarred as being a single-minded anti-environmental terrorist and, at the same time, someone who was barely showing up for work. Sometimes The Macalope wishes these people would agree on one story but that’d be like asking squirrels to take up synchronized swimming.

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