A tiny change to a LinkedIn profile has fueled more speculation about Jony Ive's future at Apple
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Ive is moving away from managerial dutiesTwo other big changes to the design team were announced at the same time of Ive's promotion in May. Two of Ive's longstanding lieutenants would take up new roles, handling day-to-day responsibilities and letting Ive pursue more "blue sky thinking." Richard Howarth, another Brit, became the new head of industrial design. Alan Dye, an "amiable American" who worked extensively on the Apple Watch, became the new head of user interface.
The assumption had been that the duo, who have worked with Ive in various capacities for years, would directly report to him in his new role as chief design officer. But apparently not.When Howarth and Dye's executive profiles were added to Apple's website this week, it revealed that they would both report directly to CEO Tim Cook, rather than Ive, the logical choice.
Ive could be being paid a LOT of money
As Jackson put it in May: "I believe yesterday's announcement was done entirely to continue to shield Jony Ive's compensation from disclosure to the SEC and therefore from the public."
We may be nearing the end of the Jony Ive-era
There's another - and potentially more plausible - explanation: Ive is nearing the end of his time at Apple.The news of Ive's "promotion" first came via a highly-positive piece in the Telegraph written by the actor Steve Fry. As well as giving Ive more space for "blue sky thinking," the reorganisation will also let the design chief "travel more," according to Fry.
At the time of the news, Apple blogger John Gruber suggested Ive might return to live in England. And 9to5Mac editor Seth Weintraub pointed out Ive almost left Apple entirely to move home in 2011, until they paid him more to stay on. It's difficult to help manage a company as complex as Apple when you're frequently on the road - much less if you're living on another continent to every other executive. It sounds an awful lot like Ive is divulging his responsibilities ahead of an eventual exit.
The news that Alexander no longer works for Ive, which came by way of an update to his LinkedIn profile on July 1, adds more evidence to this. Alexander's profile now reads:
According to Gurman, this mean that Ive no longer has a single person directly reporting to him. (After Gurman reached out to Alexander for comment, the change was reverted, and his website was deleted.)
The Apple Watch: Jony Ive's swan song?
Apple's upper echelons are now increasingly filled with figures from the fashion and luxury goods industries. Ahrendts, formerly of Burberry, is the most obvious example, but the technology company has also poached from Yves Saint Laurent, Nike, and Tag Heuer.A profile in the New Yorker of the Jony Ive revealed he was the one pushing so hard for a $10,000 Apple Watch - despite the concerns of others at Apple. A former colleague, Clive Grinyer, told the New Yorker that Ive has "always been a bit bling," and that he has "always wanted to do luxury." We're seeing the results of this: In January, it was announced that Apple's products are now the most popular luxury gifts in China, beating out Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel for the top spot.Under Jony Ive's design stewardship, Apple has made the transformation from a pure technology company to a hybrid luxury goods company. The Apple Watch, selling for a staggering $17,000, is the perfect embodiment of this. And now, with his vision finally realised, Ive may be preparing to stand aside.
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