Jony Ive, who was responsible for some of the most iconic electronics designs of the last three decades, is finally leaving Apple. Our own Rene Ritchie has an excellent breakdown of what the Ive departure means for Apple, but this move of course affects the wider technology industry.
Would you ever want to see a Jony Ive-designed Galaxy S12 or Google Pixel 5?
Even though he's leaving Apple, Ive clearly still has desire to be involved with consumer electronics, as his new design firm LoveForm's first client is ... you guessed it, Apple. But that isn't the only client LoveForm will have. Is there ever a chance that we could see an Ive-designed product for one of Apple's competitors? Would Samsung, Google, Oppo, LG, or any other company consider Ive's services? Provided, of course, that Ive would himself even accept the work — he's obviously in the position to be picky about his clients.
It's certainly an interesting thought. You can easily argue that Apple under Ive has had many form-over-function stumbles and consumer-unfriendly design decisions. But there are few mass-produced products that have reached the level of sophistication and beauty that Apple devices have in the last 30 years at the direction of Ive. There are many people inside each of the aforementioned companies that would happily pay an incredible amount of money to try and capture that sort of prowess for their own brands.
Would you ever want to see a Jony Ive-designed Galaxy S12 or Google Pixel 5? Ive has never been interested in having his own name bandied about as a product selling point, and most people would never know that he was involved in the product in the first place; but companies are desparate to stand out in a world of increasingly homogeneous electronics designs.
Regardless of the possibility of Ive's new design firm being involved in designing products for any of Apple's competitors, this does mark a point where the industry could start to shift its design sensibilities — albeit not as much as many think in their hot-take reactions to Ive's departure. As we know, the rest of the industry watches Apple's moves with great interest. Not to "copy" per se, but to see what Apple, as a noted design tastemaker, is putting out there.
As Apple's design changes, so does the competition's.
Apple still has a whole host of incredibly talented designers in its midst, many of whom worked with Ive for years. And with Ive's input from the outside, at least for some length of time, there's no reason to think Apple's going to take a hard turn and change its designs across the board. But with such a huge departure and new people running things inside Apple, we could see an evolved, if not entirely new, design sensibility. And all of its competitiors will be watching closely to get a feel for where things are heading.
Ive's influence can already be seen across the modern consumer electronics world, and the effect of his departure will be seen just as widely.