With news that Jony Ive is leaving Apple after more than 20 years, stories about the design leader's final stretch at the company are starting to surface. The latest shines some light on how Ive pushed to make the Apple Watch and reveals some interesting not-heard-before tidbits.
We already knew the Apple Watch was very much Ive's passion project for Apple, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal details how Ive was "intrigued" by the potential to keep shrinking the iPhone's technology into a wearable.
The report says that some executives pushed back against the idea of a smartwatch, with concerns such a device would lack a compelling "killer app". However, Tim Cook approved the project and Ive began work in 2013.
So goes the report:
"He met with the team almost daily and immersed in detail, helping dream up the distinctive, hexagonal grid of apps that morphed as people scrolled. He worked with Apple’s acquisitions team to hire industrial designer Marc Newson, his friend, who had developed designs for rectangular watches. He pushed Apple to hire the chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent to run the business side of the project."
The piece goes on to claim some Apple leaders wanted to position the Watch as "an extension" of the iPhone, while "Mr. Ive saw it as a fashion accessory". The result was, reportedly, a compromise. What would Ive's non-negotiated vision have looked like? It's hard to say, considering the Apple Watch went out the door with both a $17,000 gold version and a Hermès design. Interestingly, the report says "Thousands of the gold version went unsold." Little surprise there.
The final interesting nugget is this: "The company sold about 10 million units in the first year, a quarter of what Apple forecast, a person familiar with the matter said." Apple clearly had bigger expectations for the Watch from day one, but it took until the Series 2 for the wearable to hit its stride and help make it the smartwatch success it is today.
How we test