Sir Jony Ive has returned lead day-to-day operations of Apple’s vaunted design team. First reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Apple, this move caps a good 2017, a year when apple shipped more products than the year before.
Sir Jony was named chief design officer at Apple in 2015, and two of his lieutenants were elevated to vice president who reported directly to CEO Tim Cook. Instead of working on new product design, Sir Jony focused on Apple’s tribute to the late Steve Jobs, Apple Park. He’s back at Apple, though, running the day-to-day operations of his designers.
“With the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” an Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Apple’s Tribute to Steve Jobs
The reality is that parts of the design team itself were helping at Apple Park. The architects of Apple’s recently opened destination architectural masterpiece—Fosters+ Partners—credited Apple’s design team as cocreators of the Steve Jobs Theater. Sir Jony was also known to be intimately involved with materials and design throughout Apple Park.
Which is understandable. In addition to Apple’s innate desire to make all of its things be as good as they can be, Apple Park is a tribute to Steve Jobs. It’s the second most important monument to Apple’s cofounder next to Apple itself. I’ve long seen a desire to cement Steve Jobs’s legacy as a significant factor in his executive team staying remarkably intact since his passing, and that might be even more true when it came to completing Apple Park and getting it right.
And that took time. A lot of time, in a company known for running lean in its executive ranks. Apple Park was a big part of the reason Apple slowed down in terms of product releases. With key members of the design team focused so heavily on Apple Park, new product design suffered. The result was 14 new products shipped in all of 2016, a miserable year for being an Apple fan.
2017 has been better, with more than 20 new products shipped, and one more still expected: iMac Pro. HomePod was supposed to ship this year, but was officially delayed to give it more time to bake. But any way you slice it, 2017 was still a big improvement over the last two years. Heck, WWDC alone was a big improvement of all of 2016, and it’s no coincidence that the design side of Apple Park was largely completed in the months prior to WWDC.
With Jony Ive returning to day-to-day operations with Apple’s design team, I expect 2018 to be better still.