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Chief Apple Designer Sir Jony Ive Leaving Apple to Start Own Firm — Does it matter?

By Douglas Black , last updated on July 6, 2019

Apple today announced that chief design officer Sir Jony Ive (Knighted by Princess Anne, reportedly for his work on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod) would be leaving the Cupertino-based company later this year after more than 30 years of service. Apple’s stock (AAPL) dipped slightly on the news.

In the company’s press release, Apple broke the news that Ive would be leaving to head his own independent design company.

The name of the firm was was not mentioned in the press release oddly enough, but it is reported to be called “LoveFrom” as reference to Steve Job’s design philosophy to create things with “love and with care” (advice he could have taken for his personal life, but I’ll not go there further), according to an interview with the Financial Times.

It was strongly qualified in the press release that LoveFrom’s first and primary client would still be Apple, however. Apple CEO Tim Cook is quoted in the release as saying “[we] will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects… I look forward to working with [him] long into the future.”

Sir Jony Ive’s most famous design may be the Bondi Blue iMac G3, a device often credited with saving Apple during it’s most difficult years.

The question is, then, what does this really mean for Apple? Does Ive’s departure matter if his firm will continue serving Cupertino as their primary client? If you read Apple’s press release at face value, you probably wouldn’t be inclined to think so. However, in context, this departure raises a few hairs of my brow.

In the years following Jobs’s death, investors and the Apple-faithful alike were holding their collective breaths to see whether the company could live up to the high standards held by Jobs. Opinions probably went both ways (with good argument) for a while, but I think we can say that the debacles with the MacBook line from 2016 onward that something just hasn’t been right.

Tim Cook has earned his reputation as a shareholder’s CEO for good reason. Since 2015, Apple has been focusing on iOS, accessories, and services such as music and healthcare to line its coffers rather than its Macintosh hardware. Considering the rumors of internal turmoil that coincided with the neglect of the Mac, you could take Ive’s retirement from Apple two different ways:

The pessimist could argue that it’s part of a now continuous decline of the world’s first trillion-dollar company, and Ive was just paying lip service to continuing to serve Apple to stop their stock from plummeting more. The optimist (and if you are still using a 2016-2019 MacBook, you must well be ;)) could argue that Ive was the reason behind the alienation of the Mac and its design team since 2016, and his formally announced departure could herald a renaissance for the Mac, both in terms of hardware and software.

Either way, it’s going to be interesting to watch Apple very closely (as no doubt many investors are) over the next few years. Whether the tech giant will find new footing or continue to slide is anyone’s guess.

Based in Hong Kong, Douglas Black is a veteran editor of Notebookcheck, university lecturer, researcher, and writer.

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