Tripp Mickle, a technology journalist who recently moved from The Wall Street Journal for The New York Timesis releasing a new Apple book this week, titled “After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul,” and an adapted excerpt from the book was shared today that provides insight into the tensions between Tim Cook and Jony Ive which ultimately led to Ive’s departure.
The main storylines in the play focus on the Apple Watch, which I wanted to be a fashionable accessory launched with all the glitz of a catwalk with a $25 million white tent. Apple’s marketing team questioned the expense and focus on fashion, preferring a more traditional introduction focused on the capabilities of the Apple Watch.
While Cook ultimately sided with Ive on the fashion-focused introduction, sources interviewed for the book suggest it was the beginning of the end for Ive’s time at Apple.
For many in attendance, Mr Cook’s endorsement seemed like a victory for Mr Ive. But the creator will later recast it as a Pyrrhic victory. He would tell his colleagues that the debate over the event and the broader fight over marketing the Watch were among the first times he felt unsupported at Apple.
As the Apple Watch was pivoted to becoming a fitness-focused device with broad retail distribution, I would have begun to chafe at the “rise of operational leaders” within the company and the industry. he increasingly focused on services rather than hardware, and eventually he left Apple to found his own design company, Lovefrom.
The article details Ive’s early life at Apple, her relationship with Steve Jobs, and additional anecdotes about Ive’s evolution after Jobs’ death.
Without Mr. Jobs, he had assumed much of the responsibility for product design and marketing. People close to Mr Ive said he had found battling with his colleagues for a promotion exhausting and had been overwhelmed managing a staff that spanned hundreds, multiples of l 20-person design team he had led for years.
Cook and Ive eventually agreed on a new Design Director role for Ive which would see him handed over day-to-day management of the design group and move into a part-time role focused on product development.
Ive’s participation and attendance has dwindled with his new role, with Ive often going weeks without weighing in on the ongoing work in the team. The report includes an anecdote from the iPhone X development process when I called an important product review meeting for which it ended up nearly three hours late and finally wrapped up without making a final decision.
In Ive’s absence, Apple continued to become more service-oriented while Cook’s eye for operational efficiency further evolved the company. With Apple Park essentially complete in mid-2019, I decided it was time to move on.
Few knew the full extent of Mr. Ive’s battles. Few people were aware of his clash with Apple’s finance team. Few understood how exhausting he found fighting to market the watch, a product that had grown in sales over time and become the heart of the company’s $38 billion business. Still, many might recognize the difficulty of updating the company’s iPhones, iPads and Macs every year.
A review of After Steve by The New York Times commends him for Mickle’s extensive efforts to interview over 200 former and current employees and advisors. He takes issue, however, with Mickle’s epilogue that blames Cook for being “aloof and unknowable, a bad partner for Ive” and largely responsible for Apple’s failure to launch another iPhone-scale product. The review argues that the iPhone was a singular opportunity, as evidenced by the fact that the Jobs-Ive partnership never yielded anything else on this scale, either before or after.
“After Steve” debuts this Tuesday, May 3 in the United States and is available on Amazon and other retailers.