Jony Ive, Apple's Chief Design Officer (AAPL) and one of the most visionary figures in more than two decades, resigns. And the company's longstanding dominance in terms of technological design and innovation is suddenly called into question.
Meyer, who was also one of the first 1,000 developers of mobile apps for the iPhone, is particularly worried about how Apple handles the transition.
"The bottom line is not necessarily the fact that [Ive] leaves the company. Actually, it's the fact that Apple has decided not to fill this vacant position of chief design officer, "says Meyer. "They actually have the next best person on the design team report to Apple's chief operating officer, which is a big deal for me and many other people in the Apple community."
Ive, who led Apple's design team in 1996, has been instrumental in the development of many of his best-known products, including the iPhone, iPod, iMac and MacBook Air. Ive will soon launch his own independent design company FromLove and Apple as its first customer win.
From Innovator to Follower?
The news questions how well Apple is positioned to navigate such a crossroads.
"An important indicator of this is how Apple creates completely new product or software categories with its design work," says Meyer. "I think the concern is that Apple is following the majority of the industry instead of running to where the puck goes" – to use the famous words Steve Jobs used then. "
Critics have cast doubt on Apple's product pipeline and innovation even before Ive announced his retirement. Apple CEO Tim Cook has vigorously resisted. At the company's annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, Cook assured investors that Apple will throw the dice for future products that will "blow you away".
But recent problems with Apple products – such as a series of battery and keyboard issues with the MacBook Pro, people like Meyer feel unconcerned. "It's simple examples like these that I'm afraid will not happen to anyone in the design tax business," he says.
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