July 1, 2019

The impact of Apple in a post-Jony Ive world

Jony Ive

Jony Ive, the man responsible for some of Apple’s most iconic products, has stepped down from his Chief Design Officer role after nearly 30 years at the firm. He will kick-start a new venture and will retain Apple as one of its core clients. If this sounds like a new way of securing the bag, you’re probably right. All I know is, I’m happy to see him go. Long live the King of recycled designs and white background product intros. It was one hell of a ride.

A Legendary Track Record

Jony Ive is a legend, whether you’d like to admit this or not. His partnership with Jobs has fundamentally re-shaped our understanding of what products should look and feel like, but also why they exist. Apple blossomed through Ive’s subtle design changes, elegant product lines and cutting edge technologies, all neatly packaged into an experience that extends from the shop floor to your pocket. From the Airpods in your ears to the OS on your Mac, Ive and his team have played a major role in shifting perspective away from specs, and closer to our hearts. Simon Sinek boils it down beautifully in his now often-cited TED talk (the irony dawns on me). It’s the reason why no one wanted to use a Microsoft Zune: Ive wanted to build and convey emotion through his work.

Who Will Replace Ive?

That’s a good question. For now, Apple is sticking to the two people currently second in command to advance the work. In addition, Jony Ive will continue to closely collaborate with Apple via his new venture LoveForm, and will likely have oversight over ongoing projects. However, just as many ailing fashion houses turn to exciting designers to revive their soon-to-be-defunct companies, so too will Apple to maintain any relevance going forward. As technology progresses, Apple has continually regressed, offering up the same tired designs, almost laughably so. For every release, consumers expect a slightly thinner, more powerful phone. There is much fanfare, but limited innovation at every new launch. Consumers are beginning to shift away, in part due to the price-tag-to-innovation ratio which has become completely unjustifiable.

Diversity Breeds Success

Taking a step back, we must remember that Apple is trying to diversify its revenue streams. We noted how Apple News + will probably kill journalism, and why Apple is shifting towards services altogether. Ive leaving could in part be a reflection of this. Having conquered every mountain, he may seek greener creative pastures elsewhere. Maybe this was a great time for him to cash out and bow out gracefully as Apple continues to steadily sink. I wouldn’t count Apple out though: this is an opportunity for its rising stars to shape the company’s future. With competitors already surpassing Apple on a range of metrics and products, new blood will mean sparks to reinvigorate the brand. One caveat remains: if Ive is still intimately tied to Apple, perhaps he will never pass the baton. How Apple decides to move forward is up to them.

Turning the Ive Page

Ultimately, Ive’s departure should have likely happened a long time ago. Since Tim Cook’s appointment as CEO, the company has massively rewarded shareholder value, but underwhelmed its consumers. The Airpods and Apple Watch are a far cry from tomorrow’s foldable devices (even if they aren’t ready for prime time yet). Apple no longer excites. Its existing products have been perfected, replicated and copied at more affordable prices by competitors. For wealthy people in the West, Apple is still a bastion of identity, but in developing nations, there is no love for overpriced and underperforming products. If China were to ban Apple during the current trade war, it could spell even more trouble for the Cupertino giant. As such, Ive leaves at an opportune time to recharge, re-establish his vision and hopefully bring more magic to our incredibly monotone, stale product world. I’ll toast to that.

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