Apple and Sir Jony Ive have finally split, with the two sides agreeing to terminate the $100 million advisory agreement signed in 2019.
According to The New York Times, the parting was a mutual decision. Apple executives began to question the cost of the deal and the departure of several in-house designers to Ive’s LoveFrom company, the paper reported, as Ive had grown frustrated at not being able to work freely with other clients. The arrangement prohibited LoveFrom from “taking work that Apple found competitive”.
This ends a 30-year partnership between Ive and the Cupertino company, which he joined in 1992. Some of Apple’s most iconic products, including the iPhone, the Apple Watch, the iMac, and many other high-profile products have Ive’s fingerprints all over them. “He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me,” Jobs once told a biographer. Indeed, after Jobs left, Ive was arguably the best-known and most visible member of Apple’s senior management team, with his extremely serious “white room” monologue videos that were a well-known part of hardware launches. Even now, he’s pulling more headlines than most Apple executives.
His star grew rapidly after Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997. Initially, Jobs was eager to hire a major design chief from outside the company, but it soon became apparent that the two were like-minded. Steeped in a love of Bauhaus and the meticulous work ethic of his silversmith father, I have immersed myself in Jobs’ design ethic more than anyone else.
Ive’s influence was such that when he left Apple in 2019, we argued it could be an even greater test for the company than Jobs’ loss. The blow appeared to be softened when Apple signed LoveFrom to a multi-year consultancy contract, although it’s not clear how much input he had on Apple’s recent designs like the 24-inch iMac and 14-inch MacBook Pro, but now that Ive seems a lot. being cut off from Apple earlier than expected, we’ll see how well the company has learned to live without him.