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

Seth Weintraub, writing for 9to5mac, digs into the Jony Ive’s promotion to Chief Design Officer over the Memorial Day Weekend.

Seth makes some interesting and well-reasoned points. This announcement was made via the press (in this Telegraph article written by Stephen Fry) and not yet announced on Apple’s press release page. Add to that the fact that a big holiday weekend in the US is traditionally a hidden news cycle, a time when stories are released to blunt their impact.

As an example, it’s unlikely that Apple would announce a new product on Memorial Day weekend. Is it possible this was an unintentional leak, that Apple had a PR plan in place for a later date? Or was this hidden news cycle approach an intentional part of the plan, perhaps designed to ease the stock shock?

Bottom line, Seth makes the case that Jony is one foot out the door, that this promotion is the start of succession planning at Apple. Good read.

  • There’s some chatter about what Ive’s new role means for shareholders. If we’re talking Wall Street and AAPL, much ado will be made about nothing.

    Nothing because I suspect Ive’s new title, CDO, is probably little more than the formalization of the role Ive, and those beneath him, has held for quite a while.

    We have reason to suspect this because of recent Apple press; Ive has been doing more than designing Apple products recently. His involvement in Apple Campus 2, would be one huge distraction that we know of.

    Steady on, Apple.

  • JimCracky

    this is being over thought

  • TomCrown

    The New Yorker piece clearly pointed out that Ive was being stretched very thin, this move is obviously being done to give him more room to concentrate on design & quality of life and not the daily tedium of management.

    • GS

      Indeed. This more likely a move to keep Ive from taking that first step out the door. He clearly wants to do what he loves; design. Not management.

  • rogifan

    Let’s not forget the last org announcement from Cook came out when the markets were closed due to a tropical storm hitting the east coast. I don’t think we should read anything into the timing. Plus it’s actually on the front page of Tuesday’s paper in the UK so it really wasn’t a Memorial Day announcement.

  • Herding_sheep

    Honestly, I wouldn’t read anything from Seth Weintraub. He used to write poorly written, poorly thought Apple/Steve Jobs attack articles for other publications many years ago. And lately, any time he does write for his own website, its typically filled with the same sensationalism and negative tone without sound logic and reasoning.

    People are looking into this too much. Are we forgetting that Jony is being promoted to a chief officer level? Thats a pretty big promotion. We’ve all known that Jony was being overworked and stretched far too thin.

    I saw this more as Jony officially being given a title that resembled “Steve Jobs minus the CEO.” He has already filled in the shoes of Steve Jobs for all the creative work. Tim Cook handles the boring CEO duties (much like he did for Jobs), Howarth handles the management of the ID team, and Alan Dye was already pretty much in charge of human interface. Jony just gets to do whatever he wants now creatively, with a lot less stress and management work. Instead of managing entire teams, he’s managing the managers. Maybe I’m trying to convince myself otherwise, but he seems like he cares about Apple too much to give up and quit.

  • matthewmaurice

    In what business universe do you give someone with “one foot out the door” a C-level title? Barring a sudden, unexpected illness, succession planning is supposed to happen way before anyone gets anywhere near the door, let alone one foot outside it.

  • ann onymous

    I see it as the start of succession planning. The New Yorker article was worrying in that he was clearly over-stretched and burned out and admitted as such without much of a plan of how to fix that problem. He’s been the face of Apple product design for so long, doing without him could be more of an impact than doing without Steve Jobs. I think these new appointments, along with more openness about the breadth of the design talent at Apple gives Ive the space to work on long-range projects and probably start planning his retirement. I don’t put any weight in the other floated suggestion that it’s the start of him becoming CEO after Cook. From everything we’ve heard about him, I can’t believe he wants that position or feels he would be good at it.

  • Merckel

    Seth’s piece is pure speculation based on zero facts, similar to conspiracy theorists, hatching a juicy rumor guaranteed to generate clicks and hits. Did people REALLY walk on the moon or was it a Hollywood production?

    Journalism is on life support, fed intravenously on rumors and innuendo.