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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."



Top Rated Comments

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8 weeks ago
Who knows how true any of this is, but it does seem a good time to spin this classic once again:

[MEDIA=youtube]fuZ6ypueK8M[/MEDIA]

All those unsold gold watches gives you an idea of the excesses of Jony’s unchecked pursuit of elegance, without Steve’s more grounded focus on ‘getting the product into as many hands as possible’. It’s increasingly clear that Apple’s magic was down to how well those guys complimented each other. Gonna be an interesting decade ahead...
Rating: 110 Votes
8 weeks ago
“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.”

Yep. The money-hungry era.
Rating: 105 Votes
8 weeks ago
It turns out the same thing can happen in technology companies that get monopolies, like IBM or Xerox. If you were a product person at IBM or Xerox, so you make a better copier or computer. So what? When you have monopoly market share, the company's not any more successful.

So the people that can make the company more successful are sales and marketing people, and they end up running the companies. And the product people get driven out of the decision making forums, and the companies forget what it means to make great products. The product sensibility and the product genius that brought them to that monopolistic position gets rotted out by people running these companies that have no conception of a good product versus a bad product.

They have no conception of the craftsmanship that's required to take a good idea and turn it into a good product. And they really have no feeling in their hearts, usually, about wanting to really help the customers.

Steve Jobs - The Lost Interview
[MEDIA=youtube]TRZAJY23xio[/MEDIA]
Rating: 95 Votes
8 weeks ago
I have to say, regarding the apple watch, except for the most ardent Apple fans, most people saw that high end apple watches were not going to be popular, even amongst the rich and ultra rich. Why buy a watch for that much and have it only last a few years ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have the first generation apple watch and it barely functions, only after 4 years, can you imagine someone dropping a 1,000+ or more on a rolex and it only lasting a 4 years? Not likely.
Rating: 83 Votes
8 weeks ago
Maybe he missed the meetings because notifications on his Apple Watch didn’t come through?
Rating: 83 Votes
8 weeks ago
Ive is a great designer, but he needed a CEO who understood design, could challenge it where necessary and then when it was right make it happen without all the red tape and bean counting. Tim Cook isn't that type of CEO, he's an ops guy not a product guy.
Rating: 67 Votes
8 weeks ago
Without Steve, that secret recipe just ain’t the same...
Rating: 63 Votes
8 weeks ago

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.


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."


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.


Around this time, Ive had reportedly become "dispirited" by Cook, who is said to have "showed little interest in the product development process,"


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.


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."


Assuming this is true.
Every Single quote had proved my suspicious to be right for the past few years.

1. Steve Left Apple as Jony having the ID, and Scott Forstall having HI. It was extremely important to separate the two. Because while they might seem similar, they are inherently different. Edit: The head of HI was driven out by Ive. And you could ask anyone with HI experience for their thought on iOS7, there is a different between design something that looks good on Software and Actual Functioning of UI. Although I see the recent iOS and macOS is adding back lots of missing things since iOS7. ( Especially accessibility )

2. The Best people, especially product people are pain in the ass to manage, that is the quote from Steve. That is why it was Tim's Job to solve the dispute between Ive and Forstall, not to pick side.

3. Trying to go for higher profits and sales while neglecting Market Share. I think Apple is lucky to have its current market share. But I presume if Steve was alive and has 100s of billions of cash and had no idea what to do with it, he might actually lower the profit margin from a ridiculous Net 20% to loser to 10% to 15%. Which was the margin they operate on before iPhone. Somewhere along the line they got to 20%. and they become greedy. And now they are somehow fixed on the 20% Net Margin.

4. Ive is obviously burn out. And like I said, having the operation guys telling him he can't do something because of production limitation, etc. Will eventually kill what ever design senses he had.

5. Ive cant perform without Steve Jobs. Or without someone lifting up from time to time like Steve would used to motivate every one in Apple. And this moral issues has obviously filtered down, once reason why you see a lot of executive leaving Apple, at a rate much higher than past Apple history.

6. Tim Cook is absolutely **** with people. He is not good at picking people. And that is from the first Apple Retail guy from Dixon to recent Angela Ahrendts. Although I am now starting to think it might not even have been Angela Ahrendts fault. The Apple Store Expansion delay might have been an operational and finance huddle within the company.

7. While I think the Apple Watch at its current price is actually quite "low", that Gold version was insane. Ive without Steve is like Messi without Iniesta and Xavi.

8. Tim is now caring more about the process, and not the product.

9. There is already huge discontent with MacBook Pro. As a matter of fact 2016+ MBP has been the worst product in Apple history, mentioned by many who followed Apple since it was Six Colour. Apple is safe now and still doing OK not because they are good, but because their competitor is even worst. That is both Android and Windows. ( Microsoft WSL 2 will likly steal many Devs over )

10. The adoption rate of new Mac user has been slowing down. And if there are still 50% new to Mac it just mean lots of users are leaving the Mac ecosystem. I don't know how this is not alarming.

If Tim Cook doesn't want to lower price of iPhone, how about giving AppleCare+ for free with each iPhone? Stop trying to look at numbers like ASP, unit sold. Start by making best product and services.

Edit: This isn't to say Apple is Doom, far from it. But at least it shows things are changing. For better or worst. Jobs & Ive 's Apple has officially ended. This is now fully Tim Cook's Apple. He is definitely no Ballmer, but it is obvious Apple will no longer be the same. For those who have been following Apple since pre iPhone era, ( A lot of people only know Apple via iPhone ) this is a little uneasy.
Rating: 40 Votes
8 weeks ago
Good riddance, not showing up for the job that you are paid to do. Which other apple employee has this privilege?
Rating: 39 Votes
8 weeks ago

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.


So is this part supposed to be in favour of Jony Ive or against him?

In hindsight, the killer app for the Apple Watch is health tracking, and making it an elite fashion accessory makes little sense when it's still a computer at the end of the day with a limited shelf-life.

I love my Apple Watch, but considering that I will likely have to upgrade it every 3 years on average, it makes little sense to get anything beyond the entry-level sports model.

The article seems to want to paint Apple as being the problem for Jony Ive wanting to leave, yet it highlights some of the worse decisions made by Jony Ive, and doesn't really paint him in a very flattering light either.
Rating: 38 Votes

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