New Profile Delves Into Background of Jony Ive Successor Jeff Williams

When Jony Ive announced that he is leaving Apple to start his own design firm, Apple confirmed that chief operating officer Jeff Williams is set to oversee many of the product design responsibilities previously held by Ive. In a new profile today by The Wall Street Journal, Williams' history at Apple is highlighted, including his potential as a future successor to CEO Tim Cook.

According to people who work closely with Williams, he has been "more visible" in the development of Apple products than Cook. Williams has displayed interest in the look and feel of certain products, and helped pivot the Apple Watch away from its fashion-focused launch to one predominantly concerned with health and fitness features that can be achieved without a connected iPhone.

Additionally, Williams was on the product development team that was responsible for the iPhone 4, and his contributions reportedly "quieted doubters" within Apple about his ability to contribute to the design stage. One unnamed source described Williams' knowledge in a thermal-engineering meeting: "It was impressive for a negotiator, and spreadsheet guy, and it just came naturally to him."

Yet, some people wonder if Williams' executive skills are enough to lead Apple product design, and live up to Ive's legacy.
Mr. Williams is an operations executive at his core, the people said, and his skills at logistics and planning make him more implementer than inventor. “He sees where we are, not where we need to be in years to come,” said a former colleague, who also praised Mr. Williams’s leadership, versatility and encyclopedic memory.
Apple chose to promote from within instead of finding outside blood to replace Ive, which analyst Bob O'Donnell said would have been almost impossible anyway. "What they're doing is saying, 'let's reallocate how we think about this and put someone else overseeing a few young designers to give them leeway.' It’s time for fresh blood. The last few iPhones have looked really similar."

Many of WSJ's sources wondered about Apple's future and what its next major product invention will be, and how that will be achieved without Ive's leadership. "You could have looked at Jony and said: 'He's the soul of Steve Jobs,'" said Ensemble Capital president Sean Stannard-Stockton. "I just wonder about their ability to invent the future now."

Ive is set to leave Apple sometime later this year.


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Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls Recent WSJ Report About Jony Ive ‘Absurd’

Following Apple's announcement that Jony Ive will be leaving the company to start his own design firm later this year, there have been multiple reports speculating on why Ive left and his time at Apple over the course of the last few years.

The Wall Street Journal published one such report over the weekend, suggesting that after the release of the Apple Watch and its failure as a fashion accessory, Ive was dispirited and wanted to take a step back from day to day work at the company.


The report further suggested that Ive's hands-off approach was disrupting work internally as he failed to show up to meetings and failed to offer design team members the guidance they needed, particularly on the iPhone X. Ive was said to be frustrated with an increasing focus on operations over design.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an email to NBC News, called the story "absurd" and said that the conclusions drawn by the report "don't match with reality." From Cook's email:
The story is absurd. A lot of the reporting, and certainly the conclusions, just don't match with reality. At a base level, it shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works. It distorts relationships, decisions and events to the point that we just don't recognize the company it claims to describe.

The design team is phenomenally talented. As Jony has said, they're stronger than ever, and I have complete confidence that they will thrive under Jeff, Evans, and Alan's leadership. We know the truth and we know the incredible things they're capable of doing. The projects they're working on will blow you away.
Apple last week said that Ive is leaving Apple to begin his own company, LoveFrom. Apple will be LoveFrom's first client, and Ive said that he plans to continue to work on Apple design projects.

Ive also said that Apple's design team is "stronger, more vibrant, and more talented" than at any other point in time, and that he has complete faith in future Apple products and the Apple design team.


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WSJ: Jony Ive Became ‘Dispirited’ After Apple Watch and Sometimes Failed to Show Up to Meetings

Shortly after Apple's announcement last week that Jony Ive was leaving the company, Bloomberg published a report that suggested his departure had been viewed internally for some time as an inevitability ever since the Apple Watch was launched in 2015.

This morning, The Wall Street Journal published a report on his last years at Apple, based on conversations over more than a year with people who worked with Ive, as well as people close to Apple's leadership.

The report follows a similar narrative of a design team frustrated with Ive's growing absence, but shines a spotlight on the design chief's own discontent within the company, which he felt was becoming less design-focused and more operations-led.

According to sources who spoke to WSJ, Ive pushed for the Apple Watch to be made despite disagreements from some executives, who questioned if a device so small could have a killer app that would compel people to buy it.

When CEO Tim Cook approved the project in 2013, Ive "threw himself into it" and oversaw the software interface team as well as the industrial design, conducting meetings almost daily and immersing himself in detail.

Ive reportedly wanted to position the watch as a fashion accessory, but some Apple leaders envisioned it as an extension of the iPhone. Eventually a compromise was agreed, and the $349 watch was tethered to the iPhone, with Apple creating a $17,000 gold version and partnering with Hermès.

The company sold about 10 million units in the first year, a quarter of what Apple forecast, a person familiar with the matter told WSJ. Thousands of the gold version are said to have gone unsold.

Ive said his work on the Apple Watch in 2014 had been one of his most challenging years at the company, and told Cook he wanted to step back from day-to-day management responsibilities and have "time and space to think."

Ive's promotion to chief design officer was a recognition of his desire to step back, but the change reportedly proved disruptive internally. In one example, Ive is said to have promised to hold a "design week" each month with software designers to discuss their work on the iPhone X, but he rarely showed up. Even when he was involved, Ive's leadership over key decisions seemed weakened.
For the iPhone X model, Mr. Ive and other Apple leaders decided the phone would have no home button. The human interface team was asked to design software features that could return people to the homescreen without it.

For the January 2017 meeting at the Battery, Apple security escorted prototypes up from headquarters in an airtight, Pelican case. The team presented a multitude of features for Mr. Ive's approval, including how to transition from lock screen to home screen.

Pressure was on to finalize features before for the phone's autumn unveiling. Team members were disappointed Mr. Ive failed to give them the guidance they needed. "It was [a] rough development cycle," said one person at the meetings.
After the iPhone X launch in September 2017, a key designer left and others were considering leaving, as Ive's absence strained the cohesion central to product development.

Sensing discontent, Cook asked Ive to resume day-to-day responsibilities later the same year. Ive agreed, which initially encouraged designers, but his absences later resumed as he spent more time in the U.K., where his father has been ill.

Around this time, Ive had reportedly become "dispirited" by Cook, who is said to have "showed little interest in the product development process," according to people in the design studio. Ive also grew frustrated as Apple's board became increasingly populated by directors with backgrounds in finance and operations rather than technology or other areas of the company's core business.

Despite his decision to leave, Ive brought the industrial-design and human-interface teams together in one office thanks to his work on Apple Park, and is said to have created new processes for more quickly prototyping new products and software features.

A colleague who has worked closely with Ive told WSJ: "He built Apple into this ID (industrial design) and HI (human interface) powerhouse. What does that mean going forward? None of us know. It's not the team that he inherited."


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Jony Ive Once Insisted on Apple Car Without a Steering Wheel

Following the big news that Jony Ive will be resigning from Apple later this year after nearly 30 years at the company, new details continue to emerge about the iconic designer and his work over the years.


One of many secretive projects that Ive worked on was the so-called Apple Car, according to The Information. The report claims that Ive came up with multiple early prototypes of the autonomous vehicle, including one made out of wood and leather that lacked a steering wheel at Ive's insistence.

Ive instead wanted the vehicle to be controlled by Siri, and to demonstrate the concept to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the report claims a nearby actress pretended to be Siri by responding to voice commands from Apple's executives. It is unclear exactly how this would have worked or how serious Apple was about the idea.

The report adds that Ive also worked on a much-rumored but never-released Apple television set and early prototypes of the Apple Watch.

In an internal memo to Apple employees obtained by BuzzFeed News, Cook noted that Ive has collaborated closely with Apple's COO Jeff Williams for many years. Williams, who has led development of the Apple Watch since its inception, will spend more of his time working with Apple's design team in their studio.

Cook's full memo:
Team,

I'm writing to let you know about some changes to the ET involving two people who embody Apple's values and whose work will help define Apple's future.

I'm happy to announce that Sabih Khan has been named to the executive team as senior vice president of Operations reporting to Jeff Williams. Sabih has worked on every Apple product since the late 90s, always committed to delighting our customers while advancing quality, sustainability and responsibility in manufacturing. His team makes possible some of the most beloved — and most complex — products in the world, and Sabih leads them with heart. I am thrilled to have him overseeing our supply chain.

Today, we also mark another important evolution for our company. After nearly 30 years at Apple, Jony Ive is starting an independent design firm which will count Apple among its primary clients and will depart the company as an employee later this year. Jony's contributions are legendary, from the central role he played in Apple's revival beginning in the late 90s, through the iPhone and perhaps his most ambitious project, Apple Park, where he has put so much of his energy and care in the past few years. I am proud to call Jony a friend, and those who know him know his ideas and curiosities are boundless. We will all benefit — as individuals who value great design, and as a company — as he pursues his passions and continues his dedicated work with Apple.

Of all his accomplishments, Jony cites the team he helped to build as one of his proudest. His longtime collaborators, Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, are strong stewards of Apple's design ethic and creative culture. Collaboration and teamwork are defining features of Apple's success across the company.

Evans and Alan will report to Jeff Williams. As many of you know, Jony and Jeff have been close collaborators and partners for many years. In particular, Jeff's leadership in developing Apple Watch brought together a cross-organizational team, unprecedented in scope, to produce Apple's most personal device ever. This is what Apple does at its best: elevating a category beyond its imagined limits, and revealing how a single device can be so much more than the sum of its parts. I'm incredibly excited about the design team's work, both underway and yet to come.

Tim
In line with a Bloomberg report, The Information claims that Ive's day-to-day involvement at Apple has already been declining since the Apple Watch launched in 2015. Ive's recent focus has been on the company's Apple Park headquarters, which had a formal grand opening in May.

Apple announced that Ive will be forming an independent design studio named LoveFrom that will count Apple among its "primary clients," suggesting that he will continue to have some influence on the company's products.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

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Jony Ive’s Involvement at Apple Reportedly Tapered After the Original Apple Watch Launched in 2015

Following Apple's surprise announcement yesterday that Jony Ive is leaving the company, fresh details have emerged about the design chief's day-to-day involvement at Apple in recent years that suggest his exit has been a long time in the making.


Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that after the Apple Watch launched in 2015, Ive had already started relinquishing his responsibilities because of the strain it was putting on him personally.

Around the time, Ive told the New Yorker he'd become "deeply, deeply tired," and said the year leading up to the Apple Watch debut was "the most difficult" since he joined Apple.

To extend his time at the company, Apple subsequently agreed to change his official role to Chief Design Officer, which allowed day-to-day responsibility of the hardware and software design teams to shift to executives Alan Dye and Richard Howarth.

From then onward, Ive began coming to Apple headquarters "as little as twice a week," and many meetings with his design team reportedly took place in San Francisco so Ive could avoid the long commute from his home in the Pacific Heights district to Apple's HQ in Cupertino, California.

Ive sometimes even met with his team at the homes of his employees, at hotels, or other venues, according to people familiar with the matter, while the design executive did much of his work at a San Francisco office and studio, which has now become the base of his new LoveFrom business.

Ive also frequently travelled to London, near to where he was raised, according to Bloomberg's Gurman.

About two years into his new role, at the end of 2017, Apple said Ive had re-assumed some of the leadership responsibilities he had previously given up, and Howarth and Dye were removed from Apple's leadership page. But still Ive only came to the office a couple of days a week.

Some people familiar with Apple are worried about the new design leadership, reports Gurman. With Ive leaving, longtime Apple designer Evans Hankey will run the hardware design group. Hankey, who has more than 300 patents to her name, is described as a "great team leader", yet one person familiar with the design team told Gurman that Apple "now lacks a true design brain on its executive team, which is a concern."

Hankey and Dye will report to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, who will likely gain more control over product direction, and some employees are also said to be concerned that the re-organization is another sign that Apple is less design-focused and becoming more of an operations company.
"The design team is made up of the most creative people, but now there is an operations barrier that wasn't there before," one former Apple executive said. "People are scared to be innovative."

As for the fate of Richard Howarth, Gurman tweeted that he didn't want to manage the design team, whereas "Hankey is known as a better manager, but isn't a designer." The entire group of designers has been reporting to Hankey, "and she to Ive after Howarth was demoted from VP a couple years ago," said Gurman. "The [organizational] structure isn't actually changing."


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Apple’s Design Chief Jony Ive to Speak in Dublin With Stephen Fry This June

Apple's chief designer Jony Ive is set to speak at the Dalkey Book Festival in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, June 15 at 6:00 p.m.

Ive will be joined by actor and comedian Stephen Fry for a session titled "The Object of Language and the Language of Objects."

Actor, comedian, raconteur, and author, Stephen Fry shares his wit and wisdom with Jony Ive, the man who, by designing three of the most iconic products of our age - the iPod, iPad, and iPhone- has changed your world probably more than any other single living human being.

Truly a one-off event featuring treasured polymath, Stephen Fry, and Apple design guru, Jony Ive. Two global superstars mark the tenth anniversary of the festival by sharing one stage at Dalkey!
Tickets were available for the event from the Dalkey Book Festival website for 30 euros, but have all sold out at this time.

Stephen Fry and Jony Ive know one another, and in 2015, Fry wrote a profile on Ive following the announcement of his chief design officer title. In the past, Fry has also profiled Steve Jobs, and he's long been acquainted with Apple executives.


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Jony Ive Remains ‘Eager to Create’ and ‘Completely in Awe’ About Creative Process

Apple design chief Jony Ive, who was awarded the 2018 Stephen Hawking Fellowship in September, delivered the Stephen Hawking Fellowship Lecture at The Cambridge Union, the University of Cambridge's debate society, on Monday.

Jony Ive speaking at The Cambridge Union via Apple/The Independent

Ive spoke about a wide range of topics, reflecting on his career at Apple, technology, and design as a whole, according to The Independent. We've rounded up some of his comments from the speech below.

How using a Mac for the first time led Ive to find out more about Apple and ultimately join the company in 1992:
With the Mac, in 1988, I think I learned two things. Firstly, I could actually use it. I loved using it and it became a very powerful tool that helped me design and create. Secondly, and I think this is in some ways a rather embarrassing admission because this was at the end of four years of studying design, I realized that what you make represents who you are.

It stands testament to your values and your preoccupations, and using the Mac I sensed a clear and direct connection with the people who actually created the Macintosh. For the first time, I remember being moved by obvious humanity and care beyond just the functional imperative.
How the idea behind Multi-Touch was conceived around 2002 to 2003 and eventually led to the App Store in 2008:
This was a project that we came to describe as multi-touch. Some of you may remember the first time you experienced the interface. Perhaps it was on one of the first iPhones or later on an iPad. But multi-touch describes the ability to directly touch and interact with your content to be able to pinch to zoom an image or flick through a list with your fingers.

Importantly, it defined an opportunity to create applications with their own unique, very specific interface. So, not being generic but being specific inherently describes the application's function. We came to see that we could make applications purposeful, compelling and intuitive to use. And so, as the potential for a vast range of apps became clear, so did the idea for an app store.
Ive on how he remains "eager to create":
I remain completely in awe, completely enchanted by the creative process. I love the unpredictability and the surprise. The whole process is fabulously terrifying and so uncertain. But I love that on Monday, there's nothing. There is no idea, there is no conversation, the room is silent, there's certainly not a drawing. Prototypes are way in the future. On Monday, there is nothing, but on Wednesday, there is. No matter how partial, how tentative. Now, the problem is: which Wednesday?"
Ive on how there is a "fundamental conflict" between "curiosity and the resolve and focus that is necessary to solve problems":
Honestly, I can't think of two ways of working, two different ways of being, that are more polar. On one hand to be constantly questioning, loving surprises, consumed with curiosity and yet on the other hand having to be utterly driven and completely focused to solve apparently insurmountable problems, even if those solutions are without precedent or reference. And so, of course, this is where it becomes sort of ironic and teeters towards the utterly absurd.
More Coverage: Apple designer Jony Ive explains how 'teetering towards the absurd' helped him make the iPhone by David Phelan


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Apple Design Chief Jony Ive Talks iPad Pro Design in New Interview

Following Tuesday's event, Apple Design Chief Jony Ive did an interview with The Independent, where he shared some thoughts on Apple's new product lineup and what makes a device "appear magical."

Ive explained that the design of the iPad Pro is "so singular and integrated" that it stands out from "99 percent of other complex technology products."


Specifically, Ive pointed out the display of the device, which uses a subpixel anti-aliasing technique to produce rounded corners that flow into the sides of the screen smoothly and without distortion.

Ive said he finds traditional displays with square corners "disappointing" because it turns the display into a distinct component when assembled into a design without square corners.
If you look at the iPad Pro, though, you can see how the radius, the curve in the corner of the display, is concentric with and sympathetic to the actual enclosure. You feel it's authentic, and you have the sense that it's not an assembly of a whole bag of different components: it's a single, clear product.
Ive said that one of Apple's goals with the iPad was to create a sense that the product is not oriented in a specific way. The new iPad Pro, says Ive, doesn't have an orientation because there's no Home button, speakers are all around the device, and Face ID works in landscape and portrait modes.

The simple flat edge of the iPad Pro is also an achievement, something Apple was able to implement when the engineering teams were able to pare down the thickness of the iPad Pro. Ive says Apple couldn't have attempted a straightforward edge detail like that when the products weren't as thin.

These seemingly simple changes are "the most difficult thing to do." Ive said Apple is most proud of the things that should be there but aren't. "It's an odd thing when you're most proud of those things which aren't there.

As for the second-generation Apple Pencil, the way that it snaps onto the side of the iPad Pro is an example of "a magical feeling." The new Apple Pencil connects to magnets built into the iPad Pro's enclosure, and when connected, it both pairs and charges.

Ive says that designing products like the Apple Pencil that introduce features no one knew they wanted until they debuted is a "fundamental part" of his job. He doesn't work with articulated problems and he says it's rare that new Apple designs come in response to a known problem.

Ive said when changing a well-known and loved product like the iPad, there's a need to not "fall into the trap of just making things different." It's important when changing things not to "make it different, but make it better."
"If you are making changes that are in the service of making something better, then you don't need to convince people to fall in love with it again. Our sense of habit and familiarity with something is so developed, there is always that initial reaction that is more of a comment on something being different rather than necessarily better or worse. In my experience, if we try very hard to make material improvements, people quickly recognise those and make the sort of connection they had before with the product."
Ive's full interview, which goes into more depth about the design decisions made for the iPad Pro, can be read over at The Independent.


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Jony Ive Discusses His Team’s Move to Apple Park, Remains Tight-Lipped About Prospects of Apple Car

Apple's design chief Jony Ive sat down for an interview over lunch with Financial Times reporter Nicholas Foulkes earlier this month, discussing a wide range of topics, including the Apple Watch, Apple Park, and prospects of an Apple Car.

Jony Ive portrait via Financial Times

Questioned on why Apple's design team was among the last to move into the company's new Apple Park headquarters, Ive said that was the plan all along, adding that relocating some 9,000 people takes time:
It wasn't late, it was always scheduled to be then. When you're moving 9,000 people, you don't do it in one day. We're one of the last groups. It's a loaded and significant event because it meant leaving a studio that has decades of history, where we designed and built first prototypes. This is the studio I went back to on the day that Steve died. And it's the place where we figured out the iPhone and the iPod.
Ive said his team's move to Apple Park has allowed for increased collaboration among different areas of creative expertise:
Moving to Apple Park represents the coming together, at last, of these different areas of creative expertise that are incredibly diverse. I'm fairly confident that this has never happened before, to have industrial designers next to font designers, next to prototypers, next to haptic experts. The best haptic experts in the world are sat next to a bunch of guys who have PhDs in material science.
On the prospects of an Apple Car, Ive remained tight lipped. In general, he said it's important to work on the associated issues and challenges with any new product, rather than talk about it and risk having the ideas and technologies copied:
We explore so many different thoughts and so many different technologies for products or services. Some companies use the fact that they are exploring lots of different ideas as a PR tool — we don't. If you are genuinely working on something, it's better to be working on it and struggling with the associated issues and challenges, rather than talking about it. Our capital, our equity, is our ideas and the technologies that we're developing. It's important that as long as possible that remains ours, to try and postpone that point when they will then be copied — which is what history suggests.
When asked if the Apple Watch is best described as a watch, Ive instead referred to it as a "very powerful computer":
No, I think that this is a very powerful computer, with a range of very sophisticated sensors, that is strapped to my wrist. That's neither very descriptive nor very helpful. You and I share the same perspective and we had this same challenge with the product that we called the iPhone. Clearly the capability of the iPhone extends way beyond the function of what we would traditionally call a phone.
Ive went on to say that Apple believes it has a responsibility to understand and mitigate the implications and consequences, both positive and negative, of the products it creates — i.e. Screen Time in iOS 12. "It keeps me awake," he said:
If you genuinely have a concern for humanity, you will be preoccupied with trying to understand the implications, the consequences of creating something that hasn’t existed before. I think it's part of the culture at Apple to believe that there is a responsibility that doesn't end when you ship a product… It keeps me awake.
Also See: Jony Ive Talks Secrecy, His Future, and More at WIRED Anniversary Event




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Apple Design Chief Jony Ive Talks Secrecy, His Future, and More at WIRED Anniversary Event

Apple design chief Jony Ive sat down with Vogue's Anna Wintour this morning for an interview at WIRED's 25th anniversary event, where he talked about secrecy at Apple, his future with the company, and more.

WIRED didn't stream the event, but CNET's Shara Tibken and Washington Post's Geoffrey Fowler were on hand and shared details on what Ive had to say on Twitter.

Image via Shara Tibken

On the topic of iPhone addiction, Ive said that it's good to be connected, but the "real issue" is what's done with that connection. According to Ive, when it comes to innovating, it's impossible to predict all of the consequences. "In my experience, there have been surprising consequences," he said. "Some fabulous and some less so."

Apple introduces new features like Screen Time because the company doesn't believe that its responsibility for a product ends when the product is shipped. Apple, says Ive, wants to design its technology to be more human to "restore some humanity" in the way people connect with one another.

When questioned about why Apple is so secretive and keeps its projects under wraps as much as possible, Ive said that not being secretive would be "bizarre." Not many creators would want to talk about what they're doing "when they're halfway through it," he said.
I've been doing this for long enough where I actually feel a responsibility to not confuse or add more noise about what's being worked on because I know that it sometimes does not work out.
According to Ive, he's at Apple for the long haul. He continues to see a lot to do with Apple, and is happy with the team that he works with. The "energy and vitality" at Apple is "extraordinary" and "very exciting" Ive said.
Ive: "If you lose that childlike excitement, I think then it's probably time to do something else.

Wintour: "Are you at that point?"

Ive: "Oh goodness, no."
Ive is still learning at Apple with each new project, and when asked about the last thing he learned, he said that it was a detail on how you can connect glass to a structural frame. "We're still surprised and learning so much," he said.

It's not yet clear if WIRED plans to share the full interview Anna Wintour conducted with Jony Ive, but should a video or additional details be published, we'll update this post.


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