Apple design guru Jony Ive gets promotion, but steps back from day-to-day duties

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said that Jony Ive, its chief designer, has been promoted to a newly created position as Chief Design Officer, but is stepping away from some of his day-to-day duties in his new role.


Ive will remain responsible for all of Apple's design, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives, the company said in a statement. Ive's previous title was senior vice president of design, and his minimalist design sensibility and attention to detail is credited with crafting the look and feel of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

As of July 1, two of Ive's deputies will take over day-to-day management of the company's design team. Richard Howarth, Apple's new vice president of industrial design, will handle physical and hardware industrial design, while Alan Dye, now vice president of user interface design, will be in charge of UI and software design.

​"Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5,000 design and utility patents to his name," Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an internal memo, according to 9to5 Mac. "His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony's design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company."

Cook noted that Ive, Howarth and Dye have been "working together as colleagues and friends for many years." Howarth has been a member of Apple's design team for two decades and has been a key contributor to the design of each generation of iPhone, Mac and many other Apple products, Cook wrote. Dye has been with Apple for nine years and helped Ive build the UI team that worked with other Apple teams to create iOS 7, iOS 8 and the Apple Watch.

"The new Chief Design Officer title is a symbolic gesture recognizing his strategic importance to Apple's future," Neil Cybart, an independent analyst and founder of the Above Avalon website covering Apple's business, told Bloomberg. "In many ways, Jony's new role is the closest thing yet to the unofficial role that Steve Jobs held at Apple. With day-to-day managerial duties being handed off to capable team members, Jony now has more time to focus on the big picture, although history would suggest he will remain quite involved with the details."

Ive plans to travel more and spend time on the design aspects of the company's retail stores and new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., according to the Daily Telegraph.

"Well, I'm still in charge of both" design areas, Ive told the Telegraph, referring to industrial and UI design. "Those two are as good as it gets. Richard was lead on the iPhone from the start. He saw it all the way through from prototypes to the first model we released. Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch's operating system came from him."

In the fourth quarter Apple sold a record-breaking 74.5 million iPhones, and in the first quarter sold 61.2 million. Apple has not yet released any sales figures for the Watch, which went on sale in April.

For more:
- see this Daily Telegraph article
- see this 9to5 Mac article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Re/code article

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