In a wide-ranging interview with The New Yorker, Apple Senior Vice President of Design Sir Jonathan “Jony” Ive, talked about topics ranging from the development of the Apple Watch, to automobile design, to his relationship with the late Steve Jobs, to his views on competitors’ products. It’s that last point that has ruffled a few tail feathers in the Motorola camp.
Although Ive didn’t mention Motorola by name, it was pretty clear that the Lenovo-owned brand was the direct target of his “scathing” comments. Ive chastised Motorola’s Moto Maker, which allows customers to “take charge” of the outward appearance of their smartphones, stating, “Their value proposition was ‘Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever color you want.’ And I believe that’s abdicating your responsibility as a designer.”
Now I’m not expert on design taste, but I don’t understand the need to criticize a company for giving its customers choice when it comes to a device that they will be using many hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Just as slapping a case on an iPhone gives you added protection and a little bit of design flair to set you a part from the rest of the herd, what’s wrong with Motorola give its customers the option to select different colors and materials for the product they’re paying their hard-earned money for?
Apple CEO Tim Cook no doubt agrees with Ive’s assessment of how designers should be responsible for telling customers what they want, adding, “Jony has better taste than anyone I ever met in my life.”
Needless to say, Motorola President Rick Osterloh took offense to Ive’s commentary and vented in an interview with the BBC. Osterloh offered Motorola’s reasoning for providing the Moto Maker, saying, "Our belief is that the end user should be directly involved in the process of designing products. We're making the entire product line accessible and frankly, we're taking a directly opposite approach to [Apple]."
Apple's Jony Ive
Osterloh went on to take a shot at Apple’s pricing strategy, one that has enabled the company to suck up roughly 93 percent of the profits in the smartphone industry. "We do see a real dichotomy in this marketplace, where you've got people like Apple making so much money and charging such outrageous prices. We think that's not the future," Osterloh continued.
"We believe the future is in offering similar experiences and great consumer choice at accessible prices.”
Those comments build upon more recent criticism that Osterloh leveled at the likes of Apple and Samsung, which lead the way with expensive flagship devices. “We are going through one of those fascinating shifts where people are starting to realize that you don’t need to pay $600 for a top-tier phone to get a top-tier experience,” said Osterloh in an interview with Forbes earlier this month. “We are an alternative to other premium brands at a much better value. We are very confident in our approach.”