This post is “inside baseball” and written that way… but if you like baseball, cheers.
Two key questions remain after Jony Ive’s promotion. They’re not new questions, but they’re worth re-visiting:
Is Jony Ive now more involved or less involved in evaluating future Apple products and categories?
What person or persons are Apple’s “product pickers”?
Earlier, I mentioned how:
No one expects Apple to name projects and specify details but, if Ive was going to stay meaningfully involved with products, you’d expect some additional language and emphasis in that regard. It’s a sign, in my view, that his future contributions while of some importance, probably won’t be on the critical path to shipping a product.
From the “original” senior leadership team, only Cook, Schiller, Cue, and Ive remain. This matters in the sense that they learned a lot from Steve Jobs and from each other (and taught Steve Jobs, in many ways, I’m sure). Of these, my guess is that Schiller and Ive have both the deepest and most rounded product sense. I think there’s little question they’ve been the face, heart, and hands guiding Apple products for the past few years, no doubt with support from a broad cast of talented employees.
So, what’s the answer to the questions above? I have no idea. None. These things are rarely that clear; the Steve Jobs era(s) were the exception, and even then “clear” is the wrong word. Perhaps “clear-er”. If I had to guess, here’s my hunch: Jony Ive will continue to give his senior leadership vote, as he always has. And Phil Schiller will continue to drive product definitions, with Kevin Lynch continuing to be on-point for the watch.
This is what transition at Apple looks like: slow, smooth, hopefully imperceptible from a business standpoint. And yet very apparent from a human standpoint, as one era transitions to the next.
So nothing changes? Not quite. Richard Howarth (industrial design) and Alan Dye (interface design), Jony Ive’s direct reports now have a (bigger) voice and more respect. They’re not “new”, but they’re new to the senior leadership team. With Ive transitioning from day-today management, you can be sure they’ll be in senior staff meetings. The direction, detail, and questions in key discussions will be different. Better or worse? Of course we won’t know, at least for a while. But different.
Oh, and Phil and Eddy, they might be edging off a bit, too. Again, of course I’m guessing. But this is what transition at Apple looks like: slow, smooth, hopefully imperceptible from a business standpoint. And yet very apparent from a human standpoint, as one era transitions to the next.
[Richard Howarth and Alan Dye] are not “new”, but they’re new to the senior leadership team.