Why Jony Ive left Apple to the “accountants”
The new arrangement freed Mr. Ive from regular trips to the company’s offices in Cupertino. He went from almost daily product reviews to an irregular schedule where weeks passed without weighing. Sometimes word spread around the studio that he came to the office unexpectedly. Employees compared the moments that followed with old footage of the 1920s stock market crash with papers tossed in the air and people rushing in furious haste to prepare for its arrival.
With anticipation growing on Wall Street for a 10th anniversary iPhone in early 2017, Mr. Ive summoned the company’s top software designers to San Francisco for a product review. A team of about 20 people arrived at the city’s exclusive social club, The Battery, and began circulating 11-by-17-inch design idea prints in the club’s penthouse. They needed Mr. Ive’s approval for several features of the first iPhone with a full-screen display.
They waited that day for nearly three hours for Mr. Ive. When he finally arrived, he did not apologize. He reviewed their impressions and offered feedback. He then left without making any final decisions. As their work stalled, many wondered: How did we get here?
In Mr. Ive’s absence, Mr. Cook began to reshape the business in his image. He replaced outgoing corporate director Mickey Drexler, the gifted marketer who built Gap and J. Crew, with James Bell, Boeing’s former chief financial officer. Mr Ive was furious that a left-brained leader had supplanted one of the council’s few right-brained leaders. “He’s another one of those accountants,” he complained to a colleague.
Mr. Cook has also encouraged the company’s finance department, which has started auditing external contractors. At one point, the department rejected a legitimate billing submitted by Foster + Partners, the architecture firm working closely with Mr. Ive to complete the company’s new $5 billion campus, Apple Park.
Amid these struggles, Mr. Cook began to expand Apple’s strategy by selling more services. At a company retreat in 2017, Mr Ive stepped out for some fresh air when a newcomer to Apple named Peter Stern presented himself to top company executives. Mr Stern clicked on a slide of an X-shaped chart that showed Apple’s profit margins on sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs were shrinking while profit margins were rising on software sales and services like its iCloud storage.
The presentation alarmed some people in the audience. It described a future in which Mr Ive – and the company’s business as a product maker – mattered less and Mr Cook’s growing focus on services, like Apple Music and iCloud, mattered more. of importance.