Jony Ive accuses Xiaomi and others of idea ‘theft’ at Vanity Fair Summit

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Photo: Nick Bilton
Photo: Nick Bilton

While some may see Xiaomi, Samsung, and other players in the smartphone race as iPhone copycats, Jony Ive sees it as downright “theft.” That was the clear takeaway from Ive’s interview at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit today.

“I don’t see it as flattery, I see it as theft, and it’s lazy,” remarked Ive when asked about Xiaomi, a Chinese tech company whose phones bear a striking resemblance to the iPhone.

“I don’t see it as flattery, I see it as theft, and it’s lazy”

Ive admitted that he stands “a little bit harsh,” on the subject, but it’s a stance that Apple has a company has clearly taken with Samsung and others in patent disputes. The company’s fierce protection of design is perhaps best personified in Steve Jobs declaring holy war on Google for making Android.

Ive talked about spending eight years working on the iPhone and “then it’s copied.”

“I have to be honest, the last thing I think is, ‘Ooh, that is flattering'” said Ive. “All those weekends I could have had at home with my lovely family but didn’t… I don’t think it’s ok at all.”

Some other interesting tidbits from the talk include that Ive’s core design team only consists of 16 people, 100% of which have been at Apple for at least 15 years. Business Insider has more quotes if you’re interested.

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  • tjwolf

    If you’re going to write about companies, the least you can do is get their names right: it’s XIAOMI, not XIAMOI.

    • Hardy Thomas

      both the words look the same.. nothing great in that company anyways.. as they copied apple directly but left the letters away..

      • tjwolf

        Well, yeah – you’re just repeating Jony Ives point. But no matter how unsavory the company, misspelling its name in the actual title of the article (and body of course) does make one wonder about the quality of the reporting (you’d hope the reporter has some familiarity with the second largest phone maker in China) and the editing.

        By the way, I just pointed out the company name – but the piece had a few grammatical errors as well.

  • Asian Guy

    its Xiaomi, not Xiamoi…

  • sean

    Ives is a hypocrite and an idiot. All of iOS ‘s newest features were stolen from Android. He’s just as big a douche as Jobs.

    • lowtolerance

      Really? ALL of them are “stolen”? Get real.

      Anyway, Ive is hardly an idiot and I really don’t think he’s being hypocritical, either. Deliberately banking on the popularity of a popular design to sell devices is much more egregious form of theft than than doing your own take on widgets or inter-app operations.

      Apple doesn’t shy away from capitalizing off of their competitions’ successful ideas, but they never set out to just make a copycat product. For better or worse, they’re insistent on doing it their own way, and that’s a much more virtuous way to do things than what Xiaomi is currently doing.

      And NOBODY is a bigger dough than Steve Jobs.

    • Kr00

      Yeah, right. Troll.

      Samescums chief of design is a photocopier.

    • Hardy Thomas

      lol.. Android itself is a complete rip of apple. get your facts right

      • sigma

        The notification drop down, wifi hotspot, translucent glass background (from miui 5), custom keyboards, etc were stolen from android, u ignorant piece of shit!! I curse you with bad luck for life!!

      • Hardy Thomas

        You tub load of carcass. That’s all you could point? Translucent background? Did android ever have a translucent control panel. Did it ever have something blabbering to your request before Siri? Oh wait did it ever have a super functioning Touch ID ever? The first retina was iPhone then crapdroid came with smoked screens with blabbering crap display get your core facts right. Apple announced car play and crapdroid came with OAA. iwatch was announced but All they could wander was te best of some messages and crap. And look now. Health kit. Home kit. Apple pay. Ibeacon. Beats and what do your guys have. NOTHING. And who wants custom keyboards that’s ignorant piece of carcasss

    • tjwolf

      Aren’t the biggest douches ignorant fools spouting half truths?

    • NitzMan

      I think the argument of who copied whom is silly. Everybody borrows ideas from somewhere, they often refine it and present their interpretation of it. In 1440 Donatello created The Bronze David. Michelangelo completed his David in 1504. An idea taken and made better and the world is better because of it.

      Similarly the first version of Android didn’t have multitouch, which was later taken from iOS. iOS didn’t have a notification center, which was taken from Android. Because Android took from iOS, today we have a viable alternative to iOS and because iOS took from Android, we have a viable alternative to Android. This is fantastic for the consumer. These are two ecosystems driving each other forward and without this competition we’d probably be stuck using Windows Phone 6.1 right now. Quit being a douche about it, because you’re certainly not getting any monetary kickback from any OS.

  • Rob Boberts

    Like Ive’s never stole anything from Braun…..SMH

    • Kr00

      Being inspired is one thing, making a clone of something is lazy. London was rebuilt using ancient Roman architectural principles. Would you call that theft?

      • sigma

        Hey, don’t coment on something u have not used!!

      • Kr00

        Hey, don’t tell people what they can comment on! Fascist.

    • Hardy Thomas

      yeah i never heard of an iMixer from apple..

    • lowtolerance

      Braun and Apple serve totally different markets, and Braun’s contemporary design is nothing like Apple’s – their influence on Apple’s design stops around the late 60s. Even then, Braun’s influence shows up as details inspired by details, never as outright imitation. Even Dieter Rams, who designed the Braun products that you’re saying Ive “stole”, has praised Apple for being of the few companies around today that makes design a first-class concern.

      Comparing this to a situation where a company is selling a device that is making a deliberate effort to mimic their biggest, contemporary competitor’s incredibly successful design shows that you have a complete lack of understanding of design and ethics.

  • James Crow

    i have nothing against apple (beside itunes and the closed os) but i have the people behind it – even after job era there is a new one who think he the one who make the wheel.

    about the ios and desighn:

    Xiaomi:
    1. start as rom (miui) dev that look like ios but from version 1-6 they make original things that you cant find on other system.

    apple:
    1. IOS 6-8 copied a lot from miui v5,android and windows phone.
    *they take credit on flat icons when xiaomi,meizu and microsoft done it before.
    2. iphone got a really great design on iphone 5 but iphone 6 look like HTC one.

    i used iphnes,nexus,galaxy,motorola but right now i have xiaomi phone and im glad to have it.

  • Kingu Prima

    S. Jobs responds, citing Pablo Picasso, to the pretentious J.Ive who does not hesitate to take inspiration from designer Dieter Rams “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0DUg63lqU