Tripp Mickle, a technology reporter who recently moved from The Wall Street Journal to The New York Times, is releasing a new book on Apple this week, entitled "After Steve: How Apple became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul."
I wanted to launch the Apple Watch with all of the glamour of a runway show, complete with a $25 million white tent, in order to make it a fashionable accessory. The Apple marketing team questioned the expense and the emphasis on fashion, preferring a more traditional introduction focused on the Apple Watch's capabilities.
Sources interviewed for the book suggest that the introduction was the beginning of the end for Ive at Apple.
To many present, Mr. Cook’s approval seemed like a win for Mr. Ive. But the designer would later recast it as a Pyrrhic victory. He would tell colleagues that the debate over the event and the larger struggle over the watch’s marketing were among the first moments that he felt unsupported at Apple.
As the Apple Watch was pivoted to become a fitness-oriented device with broad retail distribution, Ive began to chafe at the rise of operational leaders within the company, and ultimately he transitioned out of Apple.
The piece goes into more detail on Ive's early days at Apple, his relationship with Steve Jobs, and additional anecdotes on Ive's evolution after Jobs died.
Without Mr. Jobs, he had assumed much of the responsibility for the product’s design and its marketing. People close to Mr. Ive said he had found it draining to fight with his colleagues over promotion and had become overwhelmed by managing a staff that stretched into the hundreds, multiples of the 20-person design team he ran for years.
Cook and Ive agreed on a new Chief Design Officer role for Ive that would see him turn over daily management of the design group and shift to a part-time role focused on product development.
With his new role, Ive often went weeks without weighing in on work going on in the team. The report includes an anecdote from the iPhone X development process where I ended up being nearly three hours late for an important product review meeting and not making any final decisions.
In Ive's absence, Apple continued to pivot more toward services while Cook's eye for operational efficiency evolved the company even further. I decided it was time to move on after Apple Park finished.
Few knew the full extent of Mr. Ive’s battles. Few were aware of his clash with Apple’s finance team. Few understood how draining he found it to fight over marketing the watch, a product that had increased sales over time and become core to the company’s $38 billion wearables business. Yet many could recognize the tediousness of annually updating the company’s iPhones, iPads and Macs.
A review of After Steve by The New York Times praises Mickle for interviewing over 200 former and current employees. Mickle's epilogue blames Cook for being "aloof and unknowable", a bad partner for Ive, and largely responsible for Apple's failure to launch another product on the scale of the Macintosh. The review states that the partnership between Jobs and Apple was a singular opportunity and never yielded anything else.
After Steve is available from Amazon and other retailers.