The man in charge of Apple’s Secret Design Studio leaves as Ive starts new role

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Jony Ive’s well-documented aide Harper Alexander, who managed Apple’s secretive design studio, appears to have left his role at Apple. In his own words, Alexander was previously in charge of Ive’s design studio, calendar, security, meetings, expenses, and personal projects, since 2009.

Referenced in multiple recent profiles as Ive’s top assistant, Harper updated his LinkedIn on July 1st, Ive’s first day in his new “Chief Design Officer” role, to indicate that he no longer runs Ive’s design studio or serves as executive assistant to Apple’s CDO. On July 1st, this is what became of Harper’s biography:

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Opinion: Should AAPL stockholders be worried about Jony Ive’s more backseat role?

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The Apple world this morning seems divided between those who seemingly haven’t grasped the implications of Apple’s ‘promotion’ of Jony Ive, merely taking Cook’s memo at face value, and those switching into full-on ‘Apple is doomed’ mode. The reality is, I think, a little more nuanced.

It seems pretty clear that this move is, as Seth outlined earlier, about Ive taking more of a backseat role – and especially being able to spend a lot more time back in England. Apple’s decision to announce the news on a day when the US markets were closed was obviously not coincidence.

Apple didn’t want to see a knee-jerk panic reaction on Wall Street setting its stock diving. But is there reason to panic? Or is it all much ado about nothing? Or something between the two … ?  Read more

What Jony Ive’s ‘promotion’ to Chief Design Officer really means

Sir Jonathan Ive

A lot of folks are taking Sir Jonathan Ive’s just announced title as Chief Design Officer at face value. Congratulations are in order and all that. But there is a lot more going on than a title change.

Ive was willed free reign at Apple by Steve Jobs and can do or have just about anything he wants. Titles aren’t of any significance, especially to someone with as little ego and indifference to such things as Ive. There is clearly more to the story than Apple is telling us.  Read more

Jony Ive promoted to ‘Chief Design Officer,’ handing off managerial duties July 1st [Tim Cook Memo]

Alan Dye, Jony Ive, and Richard Howarth

Apple’s Jony Ive has served as the company’s Senior Vice President of Design for several years now, but Apple has announced today that the executive is being named Chief Design Officer (a newly-created position). Additionally, Ive and will be handing the managerial reins of both the industrial and software design units at Apple over to two new leaders on July 1st.

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Jony Ive opens Condé Nast luxury conference, talks mass-made ‘craftsmanship’, partnership with Marc Newson

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Apple design head Jony Ive has given the opening interview at the first Condé Nast International Luxury Conference, in which he justified the concept of a mass-produced Apple Watch as worthy of the label ‘craftsmanship.’

It’s not so much about things being touched personally – there are many ways to craft something. It’s easy to assume that just because you make something in small volumes, not using many tools, that there is integrity and care – that is a false assumption.

Newson echoed this comment, reports Vogue, saying that machines are simply tools, much like a craftsman making a hand-made product might use a drill …  Read more

Apple’s human interface chief on the obsessive details you’ll never notice in your Apple Watch

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There’s an oft-told story about Steve Jobs insisting the wiring inside the Macintosh be made to look neat even though few owners would ever see it. Apple’s human-interface chief Alan Dye, interviewed in Wired, says the same attention to detail lives on in Apple today, and is reflected in the care that went into the Apple Watch.

We have a group of people who are really, really super-talented, but they really care. They care about details that a designer might not show in his portfolio because it’s so arcane. And yet getting it right is so critical to the experience.

Dye illustrated the point by referring to the animated faces of the Apple Watch …  Read more

Tim Cook reflects on the role of running a post-Steve Jobs Apple as Fortune names him “greatest leader”

Fortune has today named Tim Cook #1 on its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, publishing an extensive profile of the Apple CEO in which he reflects on the lessons he’s learned in the time he’s been running the company.

Taking over from Steve was not, he said, an easy transition, and he gained a new appreciation for the way that the co-founder had shielded him and the rest of the team from public criticism.

What I learned after Steve passed away, what I had known only at a theoretical level, an academic level maybe, was that he was an incredible heat shield for us, his executive team. None of us probably appreciated that enough […] but he really took any kind of spears that were thrown. He took the praise as well. But to be honest, the intensity was more than I would ever have expected.

Claims that Apple had lost its ability to innovate under Cook’s leadership were, he said, something he had to learn to block out …  Read more

“He could be a jerk, but never an a-hole” sums up Becoming Steve Jobs, says inner circle journalist

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The conflicting biographies of Steve Jobs, one authorized by its subject prior to his death, the other endorsed by Apple, paint quite different pictures of the man. Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs focuses more on his flaws, while Becoming Steve Jobs describes a softer, more rounded person.

A tech journalist who knew Steve well, Steven Levy, has weighed in with his own take in an interesting blog post, The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. He said that one quote from Becoming Steve Jobs summed-up the view presented by Schlender and Tetzeli.

He could be a jerk, but never an asshole.

Levy says that many of those close to Steve shared the view expressed by Tim Cook on Isaacson’s biography, published soon after Steve’s death, that it did a “tremendous disservice” to him. Jony Ive said that his own regard for the book “couldn’t be any lower” …  Read more

Apple says it participated in ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ book from a sense of responsibility to Steve

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In the first official statement about Apple’s decision to allow Tim Cook and other senior executives to be interviewed for Becoming Steve Jobs, company spokesman Steve Dowling said it was from a sense of responsibility to Steve’s memory.

After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew. We decided to participate in Brent and Rick’s book because of Brent’s long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve’s life. The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen, and we are happy we decided to participate.

Apple had initially refused interview requests by authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, the company taking 18 months to change its mind, reports the NY Times …  Read more

FT interviews Jony Ive ahead of Apple Watch, details on design vs. iPhone (and battery vs. thin), intensity and pricing estimates

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London’s Financial Times today carries a profile of Jony Ive in which he discusses how the Mac changed his dislike of computers, why he is consumed by design and disinterested in sales, the difference between designing a phone (and its slim battery)  and designing a smartwatch–and why Apple decided to take a low-key approach on even the top-end Edition watch.

The piece also contained an interesting (if possibly mistaken) estimate on Apple Watch pricing (update: Apple PR has now confirmed to us that the FT is indeed mistaken) …  Read more

Apple’s design team headed to Paris Fashion Week, likely for Apple Watch event

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Is that Jony Ive and Marc Newson at the top right?

Update: Both relevant photos have since been removed from Instagram.

Following a report earlier today that Apple and French fashion retailer Colette were teasing a one day in-store experience, there’s now more evidence the collaboration might be for Apple’s upcoming Apple Watch. It appears that Apple’s design team could also be headed to the event or at least to the same city, lending more weight to the idea that Apple Watch is about to get some stage time during Paris Fashion Week. Read more