It often seems that technology makes retail innovation. It can be easy to forget that people are behind those innovations. That brings us to Jony Ive.
For those who haven’t heard, Ive, the chief design officer for Apple, is leaving the company. Ive is considered one of Apple’s most important creative voices, and the team member most associated with the industrial design and feel of every major Apple product from nearly the last two decades. Ive is reportedly striking out to start his own design firm – LoveFrom – with designer and longtime friend Marc Newson. Apple will be a client, the company has confirmed.
Ive has earned a place in the history books, at least when it comes to the history of this particular era of retail. Even investors took notice, with Apple’s stock dropping 1 percent upon news of his departure, according to CNBC.
According to the report, “Ive is considered one of the most important people at Apple, responsible for the industrial design and the look and feel of all major Apple products, including the iPhone and the Mac. He had worked at Apple for more than 20 years.”
In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said “Jony is a singular figure in the design world, and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998′s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care.”
Ive’s departure comes after a five-year full-press effort in the creation and construction of Apple Park, the $5 billion structure Apple created to house its Cupertino headquarters. Apple Park has been officially open for a month; its opening was kicked off with a concert.
“There were some significant projects that I feel like I’ve completed. For example, Apple Park – this was a project that started in 2004 … a couple of weeks ago, we had our official opening of the Park. That was a really significant project, that was unlike many of our others, because it was for us,” Ive told the Financial Times.
When it comes to Apple, Ive is second only to Steve Jobs for his “level of fame and influence” via his work at the company, according to a report from The Verge. That report, among others, noted that two people appear set to replace Ive, who will report “to the COO, not directly to Cook; that is precisely the opposite of how Steve Jobs had set up Jony Ive at Apple.” As one observer put it, “I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Jony Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.”
Indeed, Evans Hankey, vice president of industrial design, and Alan Dye, vice president of human interface design, will assume additional design responsibilities within Apple, but for the time being, Ive will have no immediate successor. Dye and Hankey will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. That is also a change of pace, as Ive reported directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Will that have an impact on Apple down the road? That’s some of the worry coming out of these reports about Ive’s departure. That said, according to The Verge, “Even though Ive is leaving, he’s still going to be around. More importantly, the team he led isn’t going anywhere and isn’t suddenly going to change their entire design philosophy overnight. At the very least, Apple designs products years in advance, so Ive’s designs are going to be with us for a little bit longer.”
No matter what, the significance of Ive to Apple – and to digital payments and commerce – is pretty clear, and now comes the job of filling his void.