How Apple’s ‘Corporate Bloat’ Forced Jony Ive to Depart, Details Upcoming Book

Image: Apple

After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul is an upcoming book from The Wall Street Journal‘s Tripp Mickle that, among other things, details what drove former Chief Design Officer Sir Jonathan Ive to exit Apple in 2019 (via The New York Times).

According to colleagues, Mr. Ive “fumed about corporate bloat, chafed at Mr. Cook’s egalitarian structure, lamented the rise of operational leaders and struggled with a shift in the company’s focus from making devices to developing services” following Steve Jobs’ death in 2011 — and it all started with a tent.

In 2014, Apple was gearing up to unveil an entirely new product category: the Apple Watch. Mr. Ive wanted to position the Apple Watch, a product he had been working on for three years at that point, not only as a smartphone on your wrist but also as a fashionable accessory. To do that, he wanted a fitting venue.

Mr. Ive suggested removing two dozen trees from a local community college auditorium — where the product announcement was supposed to take place — and erecting a lavish white tent that embodied his vision of glamour for the Apple Watch. The undertaking would cost Apple $25 million USD.

In a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, a career penny-pincher who had increased the scrutiny of every dollar Apple spent since taking over as CEO, and the company’s marketers, Mr. Ive had to defend an idea that he saw as critical to the success of the Apple Watch launch.

“We should just do it,” Mr. Cook ultimately said, deciding to give Mr. Ive his $25 million USD white tent after all.

Mr. Ive, however, described the debate over the event and the larger struggle over the Apple Watch’s marketing as some of the first moments that he felt unsupported at Apple. For the veteran product designer, this served as the beginning of his disillusionment with Mr. Cook’s Apple. More excerpts from the upcoming book can be found in the NYT story found above.

After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul goes on sale May 3.

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