We first heard the shocking news back in June that Apple’s venerable Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, would be leaving the company to pursue other adventures, and it seems that today the move has become official.
While no specific date was originally given for Ive’s departure, other than “later this year,” it seems that the time has now come, with Ive having conspicuously disappeared from the Apple Leadership Page sometime this week.
The leadership page previously included Ive in the number six position, between John Giannandrea, the Senior VP of Apple’s new Machine Learning and AI Strategy division, and Sabih Khan, Apple’s SVP of Operations. Other than Apple CEO Tim Cook, all of Apple’s other senior executives are listed alphabetically by last name, with even the other “C-level” executives like CFO Luca Maestri and COO Jeff Williams mixed in with the Senior VPs. Four of Apple’s 100+ non-Senior Vice Presidents are also listed separately below the fold, likely as a result of their particularly unique roles.
Jony Ive has been one of the longest-serving executives at Apple, joining the company in 1992 and being quickly promoted to head up the design team in 1996, after which he served as Steve Jobs’ right-hand man when it came to product development. For years Ive was simply the Senior VP of Design, but in 2015 a top-level position was created just for him as Apple’s “Chief Design Officer.”
Ive has been the driving force behind all of Apple’s iconic product designs, for better or for worse, from the early iMacs and Powerbooks to today’s modern iMac Pro, and MacBook Pro, and of course all of Apple’s mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. In recent years, he was also put at the helm of Apple’s architectural initiatives, including the company’s new Apple Park campus, and many of its flagship Apple Stores.
Apple announced Ive’s departure earlier this year, noting that following his departure, Apple’s Vice President of Industrial Design, Evans Hankey, and Vice President of Human Interface Design, Alan Dye, would be taking over as co-heads of the design group. Neither have made an appearance on Apple’s leadership page yet, however, meaning that there are no longer any design executives visible on the senior leadership team.
Assuming that Apple still plans to put Hankey and Dye in day-to-day charge of the design team, it’s unclear whether they would retain their existing Vice President roles or be promoted to Senior VPs. Both currently report to Apple COO Jeff Williams, who has ostensibly been given overall responsibility for software and hardware design.
After Ive’s departure was announced in June, some suggested that it was actually years in the making — that the legendary design chief had been slowing down and losing enthusiasm for product design, and that this in fact may have even spurred his shift into working on Apple’s architectural undertakings instead, most significantly on the new Apple Park campus.
Following that report, however, Apple CEO Tim Cook rebutted, calling a Wall Street Journal story about Ive being unhappy with Apple’s design direction as “absurd” with conclusions that “just don’t match with reality.”
Regardless of the motivation behind Ive’s departure, however, it’s clear that he decided it was time for him to move on to new adventures. Ive will be focusing on his own design company, LoveFrom, which he started in collaboration with legendary designer Marc Newson, with whom he has been close friends for years. However, it seems that LoveFrom will be able to count Apple among its clients, with Apple CEO Tim Cook noting that Apple will continue to work directly with Ive on “exclusive projects,” and that the company will benefit from his talents as a result of the team that he built during his 20+ year stint at Apple.