With iconic Steve Jobs having been at the helm of Apple for so long, it is easy to forget what truly made Apple what it is today. Sure, Jobs was the mastermind behind innovative products like the world had never seen. But for every new product that shook the consumer world and delighted users, there had to be someone actually deciding how that thing looked.
Enter Sir Jonathan Ive, (outgoing) Chief Design Officer for Apple. From the PowerBook to the early days of the iPod, to the iMac all the way through the iPhone and the iPad, Ive’s iconic style has fueled Apple to be the behemoth it is today. Because, let’s face it, Apple products simply aren’t the same quality today as they were in years past. The iPhone is no longer the undisputed best cell phone around, and there are a multitude of good, cheap laptops that can serve any role any person would need.
No, the chief reason people still buy an Apple product is the look. That iconic apple logo (created by Rob Janoff) mixed with the sleek, minimalistic look just makes Apple products look enticing. They feel great to hold, are gorgeous to look at and all of that helps us justify the higher price. But as time has gone on, Apple products have begun to change.
The loss of Jobs may not have been the harbinger of lesser quality, but his absence sure does make things more noticeable. From slowing down consumers batteries without their consent in an act many think is Apple’s attempt to force users to upgrade, all the way to the travesty that is the current MacBook keyboard, Apple is no longer synonymous with quality. And soon, maybe it won’t even be synonymous with style either.
Make no mistake, Ive leaving is a big deal for the company. While Apple likes to tout its reliance on the entire company rather than individuals, almost all of its success can be pinned on three men (Ives, Jobs and Janoff.) Those men created the brand, built it into what it was and launched one of the most wealthy companies in the country. Losing the final member of the trio that made Apple what they are signals a changing of the guard.
Yes, Ive’s will still be working with Apple as he leaves to create his own design firm, but considering that means extra work on top of what he is already doing, you have to wonder whether or not Apple will rely on him nearly as much. The company will still have its own internal design teams after all, and if Ives can’t focus all of his attention on their design needs, will they stick with the man who made them what they are?
Maybe this will all work out and nothing much will change. Or perhaps this is the final death knell for the Apple we used to know and love. Only time will tell.
Caleb Edwards is a senior studying professional writing with a focus in editing and publishing. When he isn’t working or writing you can find him tending his fish, taking care of his cats and dogs or trying to find free time that he can waste (there never is any). You can follow him on Twitter @CEdwardsSam or find him at his website CalebMEdwards.com.