Jony Ive began relinquishing his responsibilities in 2015 because the Apple Watch project was straining him personally

The sudden departure of Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive’s been a long time in the making.

After it was officially announced yesterday that Ive was departing the company to kick off his own independent design shop that will count Apple among its primary clients, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman provided additional details in a new report today. Not much will change initially because Apple has been operating with partial input from Ive for a few years, a source close to Apple’s revered industrial design team told the reporter.

But the crux of the story is that his exit has been years in the making.

From the article:

But after the Watch launched in 2015, Ive began to shed responsibilities. Day-to-day oversight of Apple’s design team was reduced to coming to headquarters as little as twice a week, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified discussing private details.

In a 2015 interview with New Yorker, Ive described himself as both “deeply, deeply tired” and “always anxious” because the year leading up to the original Apple Watch debut was “the most difficult” since he joined the iPhone maker.

In May 2015, Apple promoted Ive to Chief Design Officer, a new role created just for him. As a result, Ive’s daily responsibility of the hardware and software design teams was shifted to other executives until he was able to re-assume some of those responsibilities in 2017.

Ive still only came to the office a couple of days a week, with many meetings shifting to San Francisco, according the people familiar with the matter. That helped him avoid the long commute from his home in the Pacific Heights district of the city to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. Ive sometimes met with his team at the homes of his employees, at hotels, or other venues. The design executive even set up an office and studio in San Francisco to do much of his work.

He also traveled frequently to London.

And this on Apple’s closely-knit design team:

He was in charge of a roughly two-dozen person design team that included artists whose passions extended to the development of surfboards, cars, and even DJing on weekends. Many of their spouses worked as designers, too.

I haven’t known this bit about the designers at Apple.

I hope none of this means Apple has now lost Ive’s magical marketing voice. I sure as hell hope they will use his soothing voiceover in future product introduction videos because I can’t get enough of his precise British accent and hearing his utterings of the word aluminum.

This bit is particularly interesting:

Ive had a saying that went something like this, according to a person close to the design team: There are two ways of leaving Apple — the good way is you disappear and don’t make press. The bad way is you make the press. If you leave Apple and then build the Taj Mahal, we’ll chop off your hands.

The hardware design group at Apple is now being managed by Evans Hankey, which some people on the design team find a bit concerting because she lacks a true design brain. Moreover, both she and Dye will report to Apple’s op-chief John Williams.

“The design team is made up of the most creative people, but now there is an operations barrier that wasn’t there before,” one former executive said. “People are scared to be innovative.”

Ive himself reported to Cook, and before him directly to Jobs. On the other hand, Apple’s been hiring younger designers and increasing the size of the team because fresh blood creates new energy, indicating that this was indeed a planned departure years in the making.

I like to think that these issues were the result of exhaustion that Ive must have been feeling ever since his responsibilities expanded to encompass not only new gadgets like Apple Watch but also mega-construction projects like the new headquarters and the Apple Store redesign.

What’s your read of the situation?

Was Ive gently pushed due to the snafus like the MacBook keyboard issues, the trashcan Mac Pro design, the Lightning port on the bottom of the Magic Mouse, things of that nature?

Share your opinion in the commenting section down below.