Apple needs a different kind of genius
Apart from Steve Jobs, no person is more identified with Apple’s rise than chief designer Jony Ive, said Shira Ovide. So his exit last week after 27 years is a pivotal moment for the company. Jobs and Ive and Tim Cook made Apple into the iPhone company. Now “Apple may still be the iPhone company, but this is less and less an iPhone world.” Ive’s fixation on sleek design, the combination of beauty and utility, established Apple’s modern, minimalist aesthetic and “helped change how people interact with technology.” He was “famous for obsessing over every smartphone curve and the precise dimensions of a desk chair.” But as smartphone sales slump, Apple is beginning to look like the “oil-rich countries that grow dependent on fossil-fuel revenue and see their development suffer.” It built its dynasty on the success of the iPhone, which still accounts for more than half of Apple’s revenues. But now Apple needs to transcend its hardware-obsessive heritage. Future technology is poised to go beyond devices—it’s software and wearable sensors and artificial intelligence. The media may focus on the palace intrigue around Ive’s departure, but the simplest explanation is that after more than a quarter-century of focusing on sleek hardware, it’s time for Ive—and Apple—to move on.