Jony Ive’s Return to Apple Design Team Caps a Good Year

2 minute read
| Editorial

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.

Sir Jony Ive of Apple

Sir Jony Ive of Apple

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.

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. Old UNIX Guy

    While I don’t know if this is going to make things better or not, I’m glad that it’s happened … at least we will find out if the serious problem Apple has with producing a quality Mac product is Jony’s fault or not.

    So, Jony … Apple hasn’t actually made a pro laptop for a couple of years now … what are you going to do about it? Where’s the promised iMac Pro? Will we really get a Mac Pro next year?(and I know that Apple didn’t promise us one in 2018, just said that it wasn’t coming in 2017).

    And while you’re at it, can you talk to Craig F. about the abysmal quality of Apple’s software???

    Old UNIX Guy

  2. Rick Allen

    Bryan,

    This is one of the main reasons I say that Apple’s management structure has to change. One or a few persons in the company are a major choke point for products if their attention is somewhere else. Its not a good sign to me that this is a point that needs to be made or publicized.

    • John Kheit

      That would require Bryan admitting I’m right in that Tim Cook has failed in his job of building a proper structure to allow Apple to scale. I’m not holding my breath.

      Also Johnny is important, but bad decisions like ignoring Mac professionals do not drop at his feet, and making his being away doing the building doesn’t mreasonably make him the font of all of apples misfires over the last few years…

  3. Ric

    Actually, I would hold Sir Jony responsible for a lot of Mac misery. His neurotic obsession with thin, thinner, and thinnest has made the Mac a joke now among professionals, and has also compromised the computers technically in terms of battery life, cooling, repairability.upgradeability, possibly even choice of processor and memory. Reasonable people can argue about how thin and light a laptop needs to be. But a desktop? Really??

    I have to seriously wonder if Ive even uses computers, or understands the true origin and nature of the general purpose computer and what users out in the wild truly need. Or maybe he doesn’t even like computers. I cannot know what he thinks, but I can see the end product of his thinking. And I and a lot of long-time loyal Mac users are deeply unhappy with what we see today.

  4. eolake

    While I admire Jon in many ways, I think both he and Jobs went overboard with the minimalism fetish. I mean all their products for years have been just boxes or boards. No features whatever. I think back to my first serious laptop, I think it was the first slim one, the black G4 “Lombard” around the millennium. It had those subtle curved lines, even some across the lid, and it looked great. Since then there has been no decoration at all, and it’s boring.

    (I also agree with the over-doing of the slimness. It’s silly to compromise battery life and keyboard functionality.)

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