Who will be Apple’s next Jony Ive? Nobody, apparently.

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Top stories A MacBook Air with ominous red lighting and a giant white question mark. Apple apparently does not plan to replace departing industrial design chief Evans Hankey.
Photo: Adrian Regeci/Unsplash License

Apple reportedly stopped looking for a replacement Industrial Design Chief. This is surprising, as it’s a high-profile position once held by Jony Ive, who many people credit with the iconic designs for the iPhone, iMac and more.

The corporate rearrangement increases the power of Jeff Williams, who is Apple’s chief operating officer and possibly Tim Cook’s eventual replacement as CEO.

Apple drops Industrial Design Chief position

Starting in the late ’90s, Jony Ive lead Apple’s Industrial Design team to greatness. Together, they crafted the designs for the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. But he stepped down from that role in 2019.

Ive was replaced by Evans Hankey, but then she decided in late 2022 to also leave the company.

Finding a new Industrial Design Chief proved so challenging that Apple decided to just nix the position, according to Bloomberg. Some of the designers from the Ive era had followed him to his new company. Other had left for other jobs. Apparently, Apple felt none of the remaining team had what is needed for the role.

The new plan is for the roughly 20 designers to report directly to Apple’s COO, Jeff Williams. Previously, Hankey had reported to him so this isn’t that much of a reorg.

He’s already considered the top contender to be CEO after Tim Cook retires. As COO, he oversees day-to-day operations of every part of Apple. And he started taking on a larger role in design after the departure of Jony Ive. Apple’s bio for him indicates that “he leads Apple’s renowned design team,” so he’s seemingly going to be taking on an even more hands-on approach to every aspect of product design.

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