Apple CEO Steve Jobs and design head Jonathan Ive are so close they are called “Jives” around the Cupertino campus for short.
The dynamic duo have been inseparable since the mid-1990s, when Jobs returned to Apple to find a young Ive stuck in a basement surrounded by hundreds of prototypes. Jobs recognized immediately that the company had a great resource that should be put to work.
NPR did a nice piece delving into how Jives have been working together to create some of Apple’s most memorable products.
Cult of Mac’s own Leander Kahney, interviewed for the story, recounts their matching obsessive attention to detail. On the eve of the the iPod press launch, Jobs discovered that the headphone jack didn’t make a click when you plugged in the headphones.
“So he ordered the engineers to dismantle them all and put in headphone jacks that made a nice satisfying click when you plugged the headphone in. So these guys stayed up all night and then had to repackage the iPods in the morning to give to the journalists and the press. And it was kind of nutsy. I mean, who does that kind of thing? Who’s going to notice?”
Consumers noticed. And competing companies noticed, though none of them have yet to replicate what one expert calls “design thinking.”
“Apple was at the forefront of this new movement, this idea that design is not something that you add in at the end when you’re trying to pick a color scheme or how curvy the corners are going to be. Design is something that you have to build in from the beginning,” said Prof. Keith Sawyer, Washington University.
Another area that finds the pair in agreement: both Ive and Jobs believe hardware and software must work together seamlessly. The iPhone and the iPod are part of a system, said Professor Sawyer, that includes a music store, a video store, and a book store.
“It’s not the way it was curved or where you put the buttons. It was thinking about the entire user experience of the iTunes store, of how you get the intellectual property rights without the record companies right. So all of that together was what made the iPod successful.”