Other than Steve Jobs himself, now single figure has defined Apple’s resurgence since 1997 more than Jonathan Ive, the company’s senior vice-president of industrial design.
It’s a constant worry among watchers of Apple (especially those who own stock) that the company won’t be able to sustain its growth if Steve Jobs retires, quits, or gets hit by a bus on his way to work some time.
So my friend Jess McMullin postulates over at bplusd, why not line up the designer-in-chief as Apple’s next CEO? Ive makes beautiful, functional, intuitive objects, and is better than anyone in the business at getting others to do the same.
He’s a designer who taps into the wells of unmet consumer need that fuel Apple’s ongoing growth. With the exception of Steve himself, he’s tuned to the zeitgeist that determines winners more than anyone else at Apple. Moreover, he’s able to articulate that vision with consistent grace and precise execution. He’s got a track record of hitting home runs. If you want to keep the innovation leadership that makes Apple, well, Apple, then you’ve got to have the driver’s seat firmly bolted to the flow of trend, meaning, and consequence. That’s the domain of Design, and Jonathan Ive is your Designer.
Now, I don’t entirely agree with Jess on this one. Jony Ive is a brilliant designer. That doesn’t mean he would be a great CEO — he certainly doesn’t have the sales flair that defines an Apple product introduction. Still, an interesting and provocative reminder of the need to figure out what comes after Steve. What say you, Mac-heads?