Jonathon Ive is one of the most recognizable faces at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The legendary designer oversees user interface and industrial design at the firm. He has spent the last decade making and remaking the iPhone as well as every other Apple product. Today he is getting a well deserved promotion, and it’s going to allow him to “travel more.”
It was revealed this morning that Ive has been promoted to Chief Design Officer at Apple. He was previously a VP in charge of design at the firm. His new role will allow him to spend less time in charge of people and more time in charge of ideas. The reveal came from an interview with Ive which appeared in the British newspaper The Telegraph this morning, authored by Blackadder star Steven Fry.
Jony Ive gets promoted
Mr. Ive has been responsible for industrial design, or the actual make of real products, at Apple for years. User interface design was put in his hands in 2012 after Scott Forstall was dropped from the firm’s roster. Now Ive will be in charge of two people that will split those roles between them. Richard Howarth will be in charge of product design, Alan Dye will be in charge of software design.
Ive told Fry that the new job will give him more time to travel. He will visit, says Fry, “the Apple Stores that are proliferating around the world.” It is thought that Ive will be given leave to move back to England as his new job allows him to spend more time away from the office.
Jony Ive has wanted to return to live in his home country for years and this new job may allow him to do just that.
In a memo from Apple on the subject of Ive’s new job, Tim Cook said that he will hand off day-to-day management on July 1. Ive will look to design Apple projects all over the world, from retail stores to iOS to the firm’s new HQ. It’s not clear if the new job will bring with it a rise in pay.
Some Apple watchers following the Ive news thought that the reveal of the new job was not what it seemed. The news that Ive will travel more was taken as code for “moving to England” by 9to5Mac’s Seth Weintraub. If Ive does that, he’ll be far away from Apple when the firm needs him the most.
Apple growth keeps going
Apple has seen growth like no other company in the world in the last ten years. In that time Jonathon Ive’s design has been a solid for the firm, giving life to goods and setting a bond between the user and the device. He will still do that in his new role, though he is now firmly in the C-suite at Apple, and in charge of the firm’s strategic tack just as much as its tactical one.
Ive is now firmly one of the few at the top of the world’s biggest company. With Tim Cook, Luca Maestri, Angela Arhendts, Phil Schiller and the rest of the team he will strive to make growth last.
Many analysts, like Tim Arcuri from Cowen & Co, think that iPhone sales hit a top with the iPhone 6. Jony Ive, and his charges, will have to come up with something great in order to prove that idea false.
On the other hand, Ive may be set to leave the firm. If talk around this morning’s reveal rings true, Ive is set on getting out of Apple. That may take a long time to come out fully. It’s clear that Mr. Ive is, at this point in time, set to train his replacements. That may point to an exit in the months, or years, ahead.
At any rate, Mr. Ive will be less bound to the next iPhone and face more at Apple retail stores, and the firm’s huge HQ project.
Update 13:11 EST: Over at Forbes, contributor Eric Jackson has a different take on Ive’s “promotion.” It’s not about him leaving the firm, says Johnson, it’s about Apple not wanting to let the world know what they pay him. The new position puts him some way beyond the reach of the SEC if that story is believed.
Jackson thinks that Apple may be paying Ive a huge sum to stay at the firm. The promotion means the firm may not have to tell the SEC, and the world, how huge the number really is. The new job may cost Apple very little, but it may allow them to operate in secret when it comes to Ive’s pay. That may be enough for the firm.