New Profile Delves Into Background of Jony Ive Successor Jeff Williams

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When Jony Ive announced that he is leaving Apple to start his own design firm, Apple confirmed that chief operating officer Jeff Williams is set to oversee many of the product design responsibilities previously held by Ive. In a new profile today by The Wall Street Journal, Williams' history at Apple is highlighted, including his potential as a future successor to CEO Tim Cook.

According to people who work closely with Williams, he has been "more visible" in the development of Apple products than Cook. Williams has displayed interest in the look and feel of certain products, and helped pivot the Apple Watch away from its fashion-focused launch to one predominantly concerned with health and fitness features that can be achieved without a connected iPhone.

Additionally, Williams was on the product development team that was responsible for the iPhone 4, and his contributions reportedly "quieted doubters" within Apple about his ability to contribute to the design stage. One unnamed source described Williams' knowledge in a thermal-engineering meeting: "It was impressive for a negotiator, and spreadsheet guy, and it just came naturally to him."

Yet, some people wonder if Williams' executive skills are enough to lead Apple product design, and live up to Ive's legacy.
Mr. Williams is an operations executive at his core, the people said, and his skills at logistics and planning make him more implementer than inventor. "He sees where we are, not where we need to be in years to come," said a former colleague, who also praised Mr. Williams's leadership, versatility and encyclopedic memory.
Apple chose to promote from within instead of finding outside blood to replace Ive, which analyst Bob O'Donnell said would have been almost impossible anyway. "What they're doing is saying, 'let's reallocate how we think about this and put someone else overseeing a few young designers to give them leeway.' It's time for fresh blood. The last few iPhones have looked really similar."

Many of WSJ's sources wondered about Apple's future and what its next major product invention will be, and how that will be achieved without Ive's leadership. "You could have looked at Jony and said: 'He's the soul of Steve Jobs,'" said Ensemble Capital president Sean Stannard-Stockton. "I just wonder about their ability to invent the future now."

Ive is set to leave Apple sometime later this year.

Article Link: New Profile Delves Into Background of Jony Ive Successor Jeff Williams
 

Blackstick

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Aug 11, 2014
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From the little I know of Jeff, he's Tim Cook 2.0. COOs are normally groomed to replace the CEO, traditionally.

Jeff is insanely bright, and is largely responsible for bringing the Apple Watch to market - so I'm somewhat hoping he'll give Jony's former design team a very long leash and just sign the checks they need and clear any political hurdles for them that Jony used to.

Other than a final rubber stamp, he's not putting pen to paper to sketch a rounded rect corner.
 

batmccoy

macrumors regular
Aug 2, 2005
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Obviously Jony Ive worked closely with Jobs. We've all heard the stories, but I disagree that Ive would be considered the "soul" of Steve Jobs. Whoever was responsible for the watch leaning towards fashion...and the changing of the iPhone interface to super thin, super simple, buttonless crap...doesn't fully understand the usability and interface design required for computer based products. If anything, Scott Forstall was the (apparent) embodiment of Jobs.
 

Mr. Dee

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We keep forgetting the part where Apple will be a key client for Jony’s new company ‘Lovefrom’. This means, for next 5 years at least, we will still be seeing the work of Jony come out of Apple. The question is, will this be an ongoing relationship? Because to me, it seems like Jony also wants to move beyond the shadow of Apple.
 

bbdani

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Aug 24, 2009
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"He sees where we are, not where we need to be in years to come" Well it's not bad seeing where they are currently. But to be honest for a designer you also have to think different and have a different perception and vision to make things possible. Don't want to be rude, but i highly doubt this is the guy for that. Luckily there are other designers working there as well.
 
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newyorksole

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Wait, this bloke is replacing Jony? He’s got less charisma than a cardboard cutout version of himself.
I wouldn’t say Jony had “charisma”. He has a British accent and uses a lot of fluff to describe basic things.

I never heard him speak and said “wow that guy is charismatic”.

He’s pretty mundane. Rarely smiles.
 

newyorksole

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Obviously Jony Ive worked closely with Jobs. We've all heard the stories, but I disagree that Ive would be considered the "soul" of Steve Jobs. Whoever was responsible for the watch leaning towards fashion...and the changing of the iPhone interface to super thin, super simple, buttonless crap...doesn't fully understand the usability and interface design required for computer based products. If anything, Scott Forstall was the (apparent) embodiment of Jobs.
I still can’t believe Scott is gone. Really wish he was still onboard. We need some old iOS design elements to come back.

I also personally didn’t mind skeuomorphism. I liked being in Notes and it looking a notepad.
 

macduke

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Jony was promoted to this position around the time he was starting to wind down his time at Apple. When you’re at that high level you’re mostly involved in meetings and less with design. It’s probably why he kept doing outside design work for charity projects in his spare time. Jony’s role changed to something different and was probably paid a lot more. He could then save up to start his own company.

Jeff isn’t replacing Jony the designer, but Jony the manager. And I thought from what I read, Jony was the one that wanted the Apple Watch to be an expensive fashion item, and Jeff wanted it to be more practical to help people get healthy and be more affordable. It seems like in the end Jeff won, and the Apple Watch has been a runaway success (aside from App Store issues, which they are finally sorting out with native, unified apps and such).

If this is true that Jeff’s influence within Apple has been growing, then that could be why we are beginning to see a return to more practicality. I look at things like iPadOS and being able to access files on drives, iOS design improvements over the flat/thin design aesthetic to reign that in, or even things like the more powerful 2018 Mac Mini or the power and affordability combo found in the 2019 iMac (which I own), and I see promise. And while the Mac Pro is expensive and made for very high end users, the fact that a lot of the parts can be upgraded by the end user is welcome compared to the trashcan. If anything, I think Jeff understands better than Jony that design isn’t just how it looks, but how it works.

So if he can reign in crap like the horrible MacBook Pro keyboards (rumored redesign later this year), then I consider that an absolute win. He still has the design team that Jony lead, and they learned from one of the best. But Jony was missing his balance in Steve, and I feel like he probably got too arrogant and didn’t feel like anyone at Apple should be able to reign him in.
 

now i see it

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I personally have never been a fan of almost all of Ive's designs. Sure for the most part they were successful but he placed waaaaaay too much emphasis on appearance over function. Way too much emphasis on cramming stuff into the smallest enclosure possible, with glue, tape and solder. Add to that the company's policy of forbidding 3rd party repairs of devices which for the most part are unnecessarily difficult to get in to, and my only thought is thank goodness Ive is no longer working at that company any more.

As for Williams, maybe he'll cut some slack with the other designers to let them bring their (likely better) concepts to prototype stage. I have a suspicion that when Ive was there, it was his way or the highway.

Apple products have almost become a parody of themselves and the roadmap Ive left behind, if that road was to be followed, would only have "painted themselves into a design corner"

All hail Williams. I hope he can turn this around.
 

EldonChew

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Dec 3, 2011
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We keep forgetting the part where Apple will be a key client for Jony’s new company ‘Lovefrom’. This means, for next 5 years at least, we will still be seeing the work of Jony come out of Apple. The question is, will this be an ongoing relationship? Because to me, it seems like Jony also wants to move beyond the shadow of Apple.
I bet with you whatever is coming out from Apple for the next 5 years is already stamped by Jony.

Jony’s role changed to something different and was probably paid a lot more. He could then save up to start his own company.
Don't think he has to save up to start his own company though, he could literally show up at Samsung/IKEA's HQ and they'll sign him in.
 
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MX20

Suspended
Sep 28, 2018
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Doubt it can really fix up the messed but won’t count Jeff out yet. The XDR display bezel is so thin that it look so stupid to everyone.

Steve Jobs can sell you an XDR stand with Hey Siri capability to adjust its height at the price of $99

Tim Cook will make it tenfold more expensive and sell you an XDR stand at the price of $999
 

nouveau_redneck

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Sep 16, 2017
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A new direction in practicality and function over form is what is needed. Signs are already appearing that Apple is doing just that. Ive has not been present, perhaps Jeff has already influenced some of the recent good moves Apple have been making.

I think we are heading into better times.
 

truthertech

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Jun 24, 2016
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Such balderdash: "It's time for fresh blood. The last few iPhones have looked really similar." Yes, where's the Triangle, or better, Cube version that Apple should have brought us with the Xr ? LOL. The level of analysis in these articles is akin to repeating quotes from a bunch of unidentified high schoolers about what they think about a member of the cheerleaders. It's sad that so much "journalism" has sunk to the level of calling a "source" up and asking "what do you think about X?" and reporting it as fact when that "source" may be someone in the cafe at Apple HQ who puts the mash potatoes on Jony's plate as he passes by.

It goes on to grossly mischaracterize the design group, which is in the hundreds, as "a few" young designers sitting around waiting for Jony Ive to emerge from his studio with the latest creation from his mind. LOL. Such balderdash. Sad.
 
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everythingapplerainbow

macrumors regular
Sep 28, 2017
137
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Jony was promoted to this position around the time he was starting to wind down his time at Apple. When you’re at that high level you’re mostly involved in meetings and less with design. It’s probably why he kept doing outside design work for charity projects in his spare time. Jony’s role changed to something different and was probably paid a lot more. He could then save up to start his own company.

Jeff isn’t replacing Jony the designer, but Jony the manager. And I thought from what I read, Jony was the one that wanted the Apple Watch to be an expensive fashion item, and Jeff wanted it to be more practical to help people get healthy and be more affordable. It seems like in the end Jeff won, and the Apple Watch has been a runaway success (aside from App Store issues, which they are finally sorting out with native, unified apps and such).

If this is true that Jeff’s influence within Apple has been growing, then that could be why we are beginning to see a return to more practicality. I look at things like iPadOS and being able to access files on drives, iOS design improvements over the flat/thin design aesthetic to reign that in, or even things like the more powerful 2018 Mac Mini or the power and affordability combo found in the 2019 iMac (which I own), and I see promise. And while the Mac Pro is expensive and made for very high end users, the fact that a lot of the parts can be upgraded by the end user is welcome compared to the trashcan. If anything, I think Jeff understands better than Jony that design isn’t just how it looks, but how it works.

So if he can reign in crap like the horrible MacBook Pro keyboards (rumored redesign later this year), then I consider that an absolute win. He still has the design team that Jony lead, and they learned from one of the best. But Jony was missing his balance in Steve, and I feel like he probably got too arrogant and didn’t feel like anyone at Apple should be able to reign him in.
when Ive took over the software design from Scott Forstall, Apple software going down a lot in quality. Now software design and hardware are separated again, probably a good thing
 

ipedro

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Nov 30, 2004
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Tim Cook is a fantastic CEO (see Apple's performance under his guidance) but he's not a visionary. Steve Jobs wasn't the CEO of Apple. He was Apple. No CEO is going to live up to that. Jeff Williams will carry on Cook's work just as well when that time comes but nobody is ever going to replace Steve Jobs.

For Apple to remain Apple and continue to stay ahead of the curve, it must have a team of visionaries in its executive, at the very highest level. I believe that Schiller has it in him. I believe that Federighi has it in him. I know that Jony Ive has it in him too.

Tim Cook has been smart enough to defer to their expertise and know when he wasn't capable of seeing the big picture. As long as the hole Jony Ive leaves is filled by someone who understands that "Design is how it works" (Steve Jobs' quote), and makes sure that excellence in design is never omitted from their products, Apple is going to be alright.
 

Romeo_Nightfall

macrumors 6502a
Aug 8, 2018
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Obviously Jony Ive worked closely with Jobs. We've all heard the stories, but I disagree that Ive would be considered the "soul" of Steve Jobs. Whoever was responsible for the watch leaning towards fashion...and the changing of the iPhone interface to super thin, super simple, buttonless crap...doesn't fully understand the usability and interface design required for computer based products. If anything, Scott Forstall was the (apparent) embodiment of Jobs.
I gave You thumb up, yet You don’t know what soul means. Ive was too proud to shift his soul to Scott .
Them 3 was apple - cook was just a deplorable, no soulmate.

Apple is m$ ballmer in every aspect, seems the way things have to go!

Ive killed himself itching out Scott, call it karma!