When Apple announced the Apple Watch in 2014, it did so at De Anza in Cupertino, a few miles down the road from its then-headquarters on the Infinite Loop. It’s a kind of sacred place for Apple, the place where Steve Jobs debuted with both the original Macintosh in 1984 and the iMac in 1998. And on the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh, the first potentially game-changing product since Steve Jobs’ death, Apple – and Jony Ive , Apple’s chief designer and Jobs’ longtime collaborator – wanted to pull out.
Well, no all the stops, it turns out. And the battle over the $ 25 million event logistics and price tag Ive asked to make it happen was reportedly one of the moments that led to Ive eventually leaving the company. It shows a new report in The New York Timesan excerpt from reporter Tripp Mickle’s new book, After Steve: How Apple became a trillion-dollar company and lost its soul. I was eager to manufacture the watch as a fashion accessory, writes Mickle, and wanted to introduce it with the pomp and circumstance that suits it.
I eventually got his wish, but did not feel supported by the new regime at Apple. It was supposedly the beginning of the end. After several years of reports that Ive been more and more uninvolved in the business, he eventually left to found his own design firm, LoveFrom, in 2019. (For what it’s worth, Apple CEO Tim Cook has always rejected the idea that that Ive been frustrated or unhappy and I continue to work with Apple through LoveFrom.)
That Times The story also goes through some of Ive’s legacy and influence at Apple, from the colorful iMac that I’ve helped to make “happy” to the relentless perfectionist atmosphere of the company that Jobs and Ive both encouraged and thrived under. With the time when Apple shifted from being a product-driven company with a flat hierarchy to the ruthlessly optimized giant it is today, and especially as it put more emphasis on services, I have reportedly seen a company where he meant less and could do less. And with him gone, Mickle argues, Apple’s products have remained “pretty much as they were when Mr. Ive traveled.”
In the case of the iPhone, iPad and Watch, it certainly seems true. But the Mac is a different story: Since I’m gone, Apple’s laptops and desktops have gotten a lot better thanks to both the M-Series chips and the fact that Apple went back to its PC roots. Macs have ports again! And keyboards that actually work! Better Macs have also created better selling Macs. And of course, there are rumors and reports that Apple is close to launching its next big thing: AR glasses. So the death of Apple product chops may be somewhat exaggerated.
After Steve coming out on Tuesday and Mickle will be a guest on this Friday Vergecast. (Send us questions!) The whole book is worth reading, and especially Ive’s story is a good microcosm of how the company has changed – for better or worse – in the post-Jobs era.