Apple has ended consulting agreement with Jony Ive after promising to work "long into the future."
Jony Ive, Apple's influential designer, left the company in 2019, but Tim Cook, its CEO, said Ive would continue to work with the company for years to come.
However, the situation has changed. According to two people with knowledge of the contractual relationship between Ive and Apple, they have agreed to stop working together. This will end a three-decade collaboration in which the designer helped design the iPhone and led the development of the Apple Watch, as well as designed the white iPod headphones that inspired Apple's dancing silhouette advertising campaign.
Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson about Ive:
He’s not just a designer. He has more operational power than anyone at Apple, except me.
Before leaving Apple in 2019, Ive became disillusioned with the company as Cook forced a focus on operations rather than big design leaps. So, the designer moved to a part-time job. Ive then left Apple to start his own design firm LoveFrom, and Apple signed with him a multi-year contract worth more than $100 million. Apple became a major client of his firm. In July 2019, Cook called the news coverage of Ive's disappointment with Apple “absurd” and said it “distorts relationships, decisions and events.”
Under the contract, Ive cannot pursue projects that Apple considers competitive and ensures that the designer will be involved in the development of future products, such as the augmented reality headset the company plans to release next year.
In recent weeks, when the contract was due to be renewed, the parties agreed not to renew it. Some Apple executives questioned how much the company was paying Ive and were disappointed after several of the company's designers left for Ive's firm. According to these people, Ive wanted to be able to work with clients without Apple's permission.
Apple's chief operating officer Jeff Williams will continue to oversee the company's design teams: industrial design will be led by Evans Hankey and software design by Alan Dye. Apple's marketing team, led by Greg Joswiak, senior vice president of marketing.
Ive's firm, LoveFrom, will continue to work with clients such as Airbnb and Ferrari, while Ive will continue his personal work with the Sustainable Markets Initiative, a non-profit run by Prince Charles that focuses on climate change.