If you’ve been following Apple for a while now, the news that Jony Ive left the company shouldn’t have been a massive shock. Ive has been with Apple for nearly three decades and influenced every product that launched since then, both under Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. And his design decisions will continue to affect several future Apple products across product lines. But a new report already gives us the first brand new product that Apple might launch after Ive’s departure, the company’s first augmented reality (AR) glasses.
The detail is buried in a Bloomberg report about the years that preceded Ive’s decision to leave Apple. The story tells us Ive has been leaving Apple for years, specifically, after the launch of the first-gen Apple Watch in 2015. At the time, he told the New Yorker he’d become “deeply, deeply tired,” and the year leading up to the Watch had been “the most difficult” since joining Apple.
After the Watch, Ive began to shed responsibilities, the report shows and came in at Apple’s headquarters as little as twice a week. Then at the end of 2017, Apple re-assumed some of his leadership responsibilities, but he still came to the office a couple of days a week. Meetings moved to San Francisco where Apple set up an office so he could avoid the long commute.
“This has been a long time in the making,” a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. “He’s been at Apple over 25 years, and it’s a really taxing job. It’s been an extremely tense 25 years for him at Apple and there’s a time for everyone to slow down.”
Ive will still work with Apple, the press release revealed on Thursday, but he won’t be part of Apple anymore. And the designs he oversaw might only show themselves in the coming years, as Apple refreshes various products.
But Bloomberg says that while initially not much will change, people at Apple are already worried about the new design leadership. Evans Hankey will run the hardware design group, and together with Alan Dye will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, rather than directly to Cook, as it was the case with Ive.
“The design team is made up of the most creative people, but now there is an operations barrier that wasn’t there before,” an Apple executive said. “People are scared to be innovative.”
Apple’s design group is already working on the AR glasses, “trying to turn this nascent technology into something that changes people’s everyday lives,” Bloomberg says, just like the iPod and iPhone did before. The product is still “was off,” but Apple’s operations are already involved in the process, looking for suppliers and methods of production.
The report also notes that Apple’s design team is taking on this new design challenge without several other veteran members who departed the company before Ive, including Christopher Stringer, Daniele De Iuliis, Daniel Coster, Julian Hoenig, Rico Zorkendorfer, and Miklu Silvanto.
To make up for the losses in personnel, Apple has hired younger designers and increasing the size of the team, and the new people “have more energy,” a person told Bloomberg.