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End Of An Era: What To Make Of Jony Ive's Departure From Apple

Jayson Derrick

Jony Ive, Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AAPL) longtime chief design officer, on June 27 announced his plans to leave the iPhone maker to start his own independent design company of which Apple will be a client.

Ive's name was offically removed from Apple's website on Nov. 28.

Writing Was On The Wall

Ive is credited with playing a role in developing new hardware and software for more than two decades at Apple. When Apple needed to showcase a brand new category of devices, management was able to count on Ive to deliver. Apple's strategy over the past few years has been one of upgrading existing products.

"People who have been there forever don't want to keep doing incremental updates to current products," a person close to Apple told Bloomberg.

Ive's last product breakthrough was the Apple Watch, which launched in 2015. Since then, his work responsibility was reduced to coming into the office twice a week, sources told Bloomberg. It was likely a matter of time before Ive felt the need to move on from Apple.

"This has been a long time in the making," a source told Bloomberg.

Related Link: Jony Ive To Leave Apple, Start Own Creative Business

Big Loss For Apple

Ive was considered the "hearts and lungs" of Apple's operations and a key figure in moving from Steve Jobs into the Tim Cook era, Wedbush's Daniel Ives told CNBC. As such, there should be "no doubt" his Ive's departure is a "negative for Apple" and the "end of an era."

Ive already confirmed he will be taking Apple on as a client but it's likely the executive wanted to "take a step back even further," the Wedbush analyst said. Apple likely realized Ive can't be too "disattached" from the company given his importance over the decades.

"Apple is not the brand it is today without him," the analyst said. "So that's why this does leave a big void at Apple."

Primack: 'Doesn't Mean That Much'

Ive's departure from Apple "doesn't mean that much" since his retirement was planned for some time and he will continue working with Apple as a contractor, Axios editor Dan Primack said on CNBC. Few investors showed signs of concern when Ive was tasked with working on designing Apple's headquarters and not on a hardware device.

Ive's influence at Apple will likely continue for some time but the big question moving forward for Apple is more "can they have another hardware hit" and less "what that hardware hit will look like," Primack said.

Munster: New Leader Will Emerge

Ive deserves credit for implementing a "design-first culture" across the entire company and he will certainly be missed, Loup Ventures' Gene Munster and Andrew Murphy wrote in a blog. Ive moved away from direct production design in 2015 to work on Apple's headquarter so the design team responsible for devices has been working independently of Ive's day-to-day supervision.

The design culture Ive emphasized at Apple is "unmatched" and it's likely the "right leader will emerge in time," Munster and Murphy wrote.

This article was originally published on June 28, 2019.

Photo courtesy of Apple.

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