In the past few months, Apple has lost key executives from different departments like procurement, privacy, information system, and others. Amongst the departing senior executive was Apple’s vice president in charge of industrial design, Evans Hankey who was Jony Ives’ successor and would be leaving the company next spring, after serving a short three-year stint in the current role.
Bloomberg reports that the tech giant is finding it difficult to find its next product design head, the prominent team that has been key to its “prolonged success”.
Legendary design leader Jony Ive departed Apple in 2019, and his replacement for hardware design lasted just about three years. Now the department — still in Ive’s shadow — needs a new leader at a time when there are few obvious choices. And the fate of Apple’s hardware devices, which accounted for more than three-quarters of its nearly $400 billion in revenue last year, hangs in the balance.
Apple’s lack of a succession plan for the design team is a “significant” problem
The report details that under Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company’s focus has shifted from design to cost and other distractions which have created new difficulties. Thus, its lack of a succession plan for the design team is a “significant problem for a company” that sells “premium products largely based on their looks”.
Altogether, at least 15 members of Ive’s core senior design team at Apple have exited since 2015.
That kind of turnover had been rare. Months before the departures started, Ive touted that only two members of the design team left Apple in the 15 preceding years and that one of the two resigned for health reasons.
Even before Ive left, Apple’s operations department had begun to wield more influence over the design team, people familiar with the matter said. That meant a focus on costs rather than purely on look and features.
It is speculated that the only sensible resolution to the predicament for the tech giant is to re-hire a former member of Ive’s team to lead its design team’s hardware division because if the company hires an executive from a rival like Google or Microsoft it would be the “death of the team”.