Jony Ive’s departure from Apple last week may have felt sudden, but a fascinating piece from The Wall Street Journal suggests that he was on his way out for some time.
Following the announcement, there have been multiple reports of Ive slowly moving away from his job at Cupertino. Bloomberg reported last week that Ive was cutting down on his responsibilities as early as 2015, coming into the Apple HQ as little as twice a week. And now, a new report from the Wall Street Journal is shedding some light on the reason behind Ive’s departure.
According to the report, Ive was left “dispirited” by Tim Cook, in stark contrast to his close relationship with Steve Jobs. Cook apparently “showed little interest in the product development process,” according to the paper’s sources. Ive was also left frustrated by the makeup of Apple’s board of directors, which was filled with people with backgrounds outside of Apple’s core business.
Regardless, Ive reportedly pushed the company to develop the Apple Watch, becoming heavily involved in both hardware and software design, as well as hiring fashion experts to help design and market the first true Apple wearable. Following executive disagreements as to how the product should be positioned — iPhone-tethered or independent, affordable or expensive — the early model underperformed Apple’s expectations, selling only 10 million units compared with the company’s forecast of 40 million.
After the release of the Apple Watch, Ive told Cook he wanted to lessen his daily management responsibilities, telling several people he wanted time to think but did not want to leave. When Cook announced his new title of chief design officer in 2015, the role came with more remote work, which the design team found disappointing.
Ive agreed to pick up his day-to-day responsibilities again in 2017 after a meeting with Cook, the Wall Street Journal reported, but he eventually became absent from the office again, spending time in the U.K. with his sick father. As Ive has remained distant, four longtime members of his team left in the past year, according to the report.
Many people weren’t aware that Ive was going to leave until the day he held a meeting with the UI and industrial design teams at Apple Park. The report describes this as an “intimate event [that] felt like a family gathering and was a fitting way for the design chief to say goodbye, said one person in attendance.”
The report adds that Apple’s commitment to continue working with Ive’s new company, LoveFrom, will cost them “millions of dollars a year.”