After decades together, Apple and Jony Ive are finally broken up, according to The New York Times. Apple and LoveFrom — the company Ive founded in 2019 — won’t be extending their contract, officially ending a decades-long relationship.
The two tried to keep a good thing going, with Apple becoming LoveFrom’s first customer, but as anybody who has transitioned to a long-distance relationship will know, these things seldom work out. Keep a close eye on Apple’s ice cream budgets in the next quarterly financials to get an idea of how well they’re coping with the break up.
For those unfamiliar with Jony Ive (as distinct from Johnny Five — the robot from Short Circuit) he’s the man behind the design of many of Apple’s most iconic products. Think those translucent iMacs of the early 2000s, as well as the iPhone, Apple Watch and even AirPods. Yes, they may well have seemed like a bit of a misfire at first, but dozens of imitators can’t be wrong. Well, they can, but it’s kind of a moot point if they’re still all selling like hotcakes.
The general consensus is that Ive was more of a Steve Jobs person than a Tim Cook one. And while he continued at Apple for eight years after Jobs’ death, one report stated that he felt “dispirited” about Tim Cook’s limited interest in design and the company’s drift towards software and services rather than hardware. Though Cook himself disputed this, calling the claim “absurd.”
So why have the two given up a contract valued at over US$100 million — chump change to Apple, but somewhat handy for a fledgling startup like LoveFrom?
Well it does appear to be truly mutual with both sides having misgivings. For LoveFrom, it’s about being able to take on Apple competitors as clients — something forbidden under the terms of their deal. The Times states that LoveFrom would have to clear any potential conflicts with Apple, which blocks phones and laptops, but also potentially cars and VR.
Apple, meanwhile, was reportedly questioning why it was paying so much for design assistance when it spends quite a lot on in-house designers. It has also apparently grown weary of designers jumping ship and joining LoveFrom, which this will likely stop. If a promising young designer wants to work on the next iPhone, they’ll have to stick with Apple.
When it was first announced that Ive was leaving Apple, Tim Cook said that he looked “forward to working with Jony long into the future.” It turns out the word “long” really is quite subjective.