Apple's Ive Reportedly Unhappy With Operations Guy Cook's Passionless Lack Of Design Interest

Updated 7/2/2019
Tim Cook has responded to the WSJ article and is calling its content "absurd". You can read our followup article here.

Jony Ive and Tim Cook
After nearly three decades with Apple, famed designer Jony Ive recently announced that he is leaving the company to form an independent design firm of his own. It was a surprise announcement, and if a new report is to be believed, this moment has been brewing for years due to a growing disconnect between Ive and Apple's main decision makers, including CEO Tim Cook.

Ive joined Apple way back in 1992. He was with the company when co-founder Steve Jobs was ousted, and he was there when Jobs made his return in 1997. Throughout the years, Ive designed several iconic products, including the iPhone and, more recently, the Apple Watch. So, what exactly led to his pending departure?

Officially, Ive is leaving to pursue "personal projects" and "will continue to work closely" with Apple "on a range of projects." He just will not be an employee of Apple, and instead will have his own design company. According to The Wall Street Journal, however, there was plenty of "internal drama" that led to this conclusion.

The report describes a strong relationship that existed between Ive and Jobs before the visionary leader passed away, with the two often eating together, working together, and socializing after hours. Things changed when Cook came into power. Cook and other high level execs transformed Apple into a "more operations-focused company" than it had been when Jobs was in charge, according to the report.

It was also noted that Ive "grew frustrated" with Apple's board becoming increasingly populated with people who have backgrounds in finance and operations. In contrast, Ive is an industrial design and technology visionary, much like Jobs was when he was alive.

According to the report, the launch of the Apple Watch underscores the divide that grew over time—Ive envisioned it as a fashion accessory, whereas Cook and company saw it as an extension of the iPhone. This difference in vision is emblematic of the rift.

As time went on, Ive began working remotely and met less frequently with other execs. This is according to both WSJ and a recent report by Bloomberg. Both describe an individual who had become burned-out and tired over the years.

We're not sure how much of all this is true versus sensationalized Apple reporting, especially since Ive will still help the company design products, just now on his own. Either way, it will be interesting to see what direction Apple's future products take.