Jony Ive Says Holding Onto Features When There's a 'Better Way' is 'Path That Leads to Failure'

After naming the iPhone X as one of the 25 Best Inventions of the Year, TIME sat down for an interview about the smartphone with Apple's design chief Jony Ive and hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio.

iphone x earpiece
Riccio believes the iPhone X paves the way for the next 10 years of smartphones, given its radical redesign with a nearly edge to edge display, no home button, and advanced cameras for facial recognition and augmented reality.

"There were these extraordinarily complex problems that needed to be solved," said Ive. "Paying attention to what's happened historically actually helps give you some faith that you are going to find a solution."

That history includes, in part, Apple removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 last year, parting ways with the built-in disc drive on the MacBook Pro after 2012, and ditching the floppy drive on the iMac G3 in 1998.

"I actually think the path of holding onto features that have been effective, the path of holding onto those whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure," said Ive. "And in the short term, it's the path that feels less risky and it's the path that feels more secure."

Ive acknowledged that it's not always easy for Apple to move past a feature or technology when it believes there's a "better way," and it's easy to see his point given the controversy that each change has generated.

Apple was criticized by a fair number of customers for removing the headphone jack on the iPhone last year, for example, and even competitors like Google and Samsung used it as an opportunity to poke fun at Apple.

After time, however, many customers usually learn to adapt. Google even removed the headphone jack on the Pixel 2 this year.

iPhone X is the most expensive iPhone ever, with a starting price of $999 in the United States, which Ive said is the "financial consequence" of "integrating the sheer amount of processing power into such a small device."

"Our goal is always to provide what we think is the best product possible, not always the lowest cost," added Riccio.

Despite being expensive, the iPhone X appears to be off to a successful start given sales estimates, and Apple's forecast for an all-time revenue record this quarter. Orders placed today are still backlogged by 2-3 weeks.

Top Rated Comments

macguru212 Avatar
43 months ago
...Like turning something OFF but it's not really off but on? :)
Score: 88 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FSMBP Avatar
43 months ago
Definitely insightful. Still doesn't explain who Apple isn't removing HDD (very old-dated tech) and replacing them with SSD for all their Macs. It's like they only remove features that ultimately benefit them.
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shareef777 Avatar
43 months ago
Apple PR machine out in full force today. Wonder if the waning sales of the iPhone X are a cause.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redheeler Avatar
43 months ago
Apple removes nearly all ubiquitous ports from a $2K+ MacBook Pro, replaces them with a new standard available only on a tiny percentage of peripherals, and doesn't even bother to put an $8 adapter in the box.

Yes, out with the old and in with the new, but that's taking it way too far.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
palmerc2 Avatar
43 months ago
I still can’t wrap my head around how the notch is a wise design choice.

I know I know, you get used to it after a couple days. Doesn’t change the fact it’s ugly as hell. Adding a small bezel along the top that’s half the height of current notch to house the new tech would’ve been better.

Also, I can only imagine the amount of seething remarks people on this site would make if the new Google pixel had a notch on their screen. They’d be in full force mocking it. But since it’s Apple, they can do no wrong.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tkermit Avatar
43 months ago
Excited to see what features they remove next year!
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
Screen Shot 2021 03 08 at 1

Leaker Suggests Apple Event to Be Held on March 23

Monday March 8, 2021 2:25 am PST by
Apple will hold its first event of the year on March 23, according to information provided by a reputable Chinese leaker (via DuanRui). Apple is expected to launch AirTags, new iPads, and possibly updated AirPods at a spring event, and leaker "Kang" believes that date will be March 23. Initial speculation pointed to an event happening on March 16; however, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman shot down...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
iOS 14

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.4.1 With Security Fixes

Monday March 8, 2021 10:01 am PST by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.4.1, minor security updates that comes more than a month after the release of the iOS 14.4 update. The iOS and iPadOS 14.4.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. According to Apple's release...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...
apple mixed reality headset mockup feature

Kuo: Apple to Launch Mixed Reality Headset in Mid 2022 and Augmented Reality Glasses by 2025

Sunday March 7, 2021 8:27 am PST by
Apple plans to release its long-rumored mixed reality headset "in mid-2022," followed by augmented reality glasses by 2025, well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note with TF International Securities, obtained by MacRumors. "We predict that Apple's MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by...
smart contact lens

Kuo: Apple May Release Augmented Reality Contact Lenses in 2030s

Sunday March 7, 2021 9:34 am PST by
In a research note shared with MacRumors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo today predicted that Apple will release augmented reality "contact lenses" in the 2030s. Kuo said the lenses will bring electronics from the era of "visible computing" to "invisible computing." Mojo Vision smart contact lens Kuo said the lenses are "unlikely to have independent computing power and storage," suggesting that they...