Shakeup Cements Jony Ive's Control Over Apple's Software Design

Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly initiated another management shakeup at Apple in a change that will soon leave Sir Jony Ive firmly in charge of Apple's software design. 9to5Mac reported that Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie is departing the company, and that Sir Jony will completely subsume control over Apple's software design group.

King Jony Ive

Sir King Jony Ive

Greg Christie was the creator of the original iPhone interface, and his roots inside Apple went as far back as work on the Newton. In his most recent capacity at Apple. Mr. Christie reported to Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, and according to Mark Gurman's sources, it was friction between Jony Ive and Mr. Christie that led to the latter's ouster.

That friction reportedly began immediately after Scott Forstall's ouster, when Jony Ive had Mr. Christie's Human Interface team began redesigning the look and feel of iOS from the ground up. The two reportedly clashed over the direction that effort should take, and Sir Jony effectively went around Mr. Christie to get what he wanted. The result was iOS 7.

All of which makes me think of one of the comments the late Steve Jobs wrote in an email in 2010 that recently came to light during Apple's patent infringement trial against Samsung. In that email, Mr. Jobs wrote, "Apple is in danger of hanging on to old paradigm too long (innovator's dilemma)."

My read on the 2012 departure of Mr. Forstall and the impending departure of Greg Christie is that Tim Cook is determined not to let the innovator's dilemma take root at Apple. The narrative for both departures is that the executive resisting change was let go.

Of course, the other thread is that the executive who was at odds with Jony Ive was let go. Somewhere in there may be a lesson for other executives, but I'd prefer to focus on the resistance to change aspect of these shakeups.

Remember, too, that Tim Cook has devoted major resources to expanding Apple University within Apple, an educational system designed to instill and institutionalize the values identified by Steve Jobs as crucial to Apple being Apple.

This is a company that must move forward. It is more important for Apple to fail, and to fail spectacularly, than it is for Apple to perpetuate what already works. This was a message hammered on repeatedly by Steve Jobs, and to all outward appearances, it's a message that Tim Cook heard loud and clear.

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