The ‘spiritual partner’ of the late Steve Jobs, British designer of the iPhone Sir Jony Ive is to leave Apple
Apple has confirmed one of the most significant departures in its history, with the news that Sir Jony Ive, the British designer of the iPhone, is to leave the company.
Apple’s founder, the late Steve Jobs, once said of Sir Jonathan “If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it’s Jony.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his contribution to Apple’s revival could not be overstated. Sir Jonathan is to form his own independent design company called ‘LoveForm’, with Apple as his major client.
News of his departure from Apple was revealed in an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, in which Sir Jonathan confirmed the transition would begin this year, with LoveForm fully operational in 2020.
“While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved – I hope for many, many years to come,” Sir Jonathan told the FT. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.”
Apple then confirmed the news in an announcement that is sure to shock both investors and Apple fans alike.
“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,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.
“Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built,” said Cook. “After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”
There will be no immediate successor, although design team leaders Evans Hankey, VP of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, VP of Human Interface Design, will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
“After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer,” said Sir Jonathan.
“Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” said Sir Jonathan “The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
Sir Jonathan was born in Chingford, London, and studied Industrial Design at Northumbria University (then known as Newcastle Polytechnic).
He began his career at London-based design consultancy Tangerine, where he worked on a wide range of products from power tools to wash basins.
In 1992 he moved to the US to work for Apple as their chief designer.
Sir Jonathan gained complete design control when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 (Apple was back then in very poor financial health), and since that time he headed the Industrial Design team responsible for most of the company’s significant hardware products, including the iMac in 1998, and the iPod in 2001.
He was also responsible for the design of the iPod Mini (2004); the iPhone (2007); the Macbook Air (2008); the iPad (2010); Apple Watch (2015); and AirPods (2016).
His most recent project was finishing Apple’s new corporate headquarters, Apple Park.
In 2005 he was named as one of Britain’s most influential expatriates by the Sunday Times, and in 2012 he was knighted by the Queen.
Sir Jonathan provided vital continuity for Apple’s strategic vision after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, aged 56 in October 2011 following his eight year battle with pancreatic cancer. At one stage Sir Jonathan was even being mooted as the next CEO of Apple.
The death of Jobs however did have a lasting impact on Sir Jonathan and in 2011 it was reported that he was at “loggerheads” with the company’s board, over his wish to move back to the UK.
Sir Jonathan and his wife were said to be keen to return back to England to raise their children and send them to British schools.
Sir Jonathan even proposed a plan to “commute” to Cupertino, California, from his Georgian manor house in Somerset.
In the end Apple held onto Sir Jonathan and kept him in the United States, but now both parties are to go their separate ways, albeit on good terms.
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