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Some in the tech media went off the deep end in their interpretation of the Jony Ive promotion story this week.
Almost immediately, media types were weighing in with theories that Ive’s promotion to chief design officer is really a fluffy way of easing him out of the organization.
Some cited past interviews in which Sir Jony said he’d like to move back to Dear Old Blighty.
But it’s all nonsense.
Great companies put their people in roles where they can use their best talents most of the time. That’s what Apple is doing.
Ive, simply put, is the best conduit Apple has to the winning technology-plus-design aesthetic of Steve Jobs. Ive was not only a good friend of Jobs, but the two men connected on a design level, too. That’s not something Tim Cook can say.
Apple is trying to put Ive in a place where he can think big thoughts about product roadmaps, about major design themes that cut across all Apple products, about what’s coming next, and about product-market fit five years in the future. That’s really heady stuff. And Apple’s future depends on it.
Ive said himself in a Telegraph interview that he was trying to get out of management and administration, which he says he isn’t good at. Whether he’s good at those things or not doesn’t matter; he shouldn’t be scheduling meetings and signing expense reports.
So everybody calm down. Ive isn’t going anywhere. Apple is doing what it can to make Apple CDO Ive’s dream job.
As John Gruber at Daring Fireball points out, only three C-level positions exist at Apple, and Ive has one of them (Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri have the other two). Would Apple create a new CDO position as a tool to ease Ive out? No way.
The only troubling thing I heard about the promotion was that Ive apparently wants to spend more time designing the Apple Stores and working on Apple’s new campus. Those interests should occupy about 10 percent of Ive’s time.
Most of the rest should be spent staring at a white wall somewhere, thinking about the Next Big Thing.
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