UK-Based Times Online nominates UK-born Jony Ive as Apple CEO heir apparent

While we absolutely love the designs that Jonathan Ive has produced throughout the last 10+ years at Apple, it is hard to see him ascending to the Apple throne as easily as the Times predicts in today’s article.  The short answer is: Tim Cook would be the CEO if Jobs leaves in five years or less.  Up and comer, Scott Forstall (Apple’s vice president of Platform Experience) who has charisma, can do a keynote, and knows tech and design would be the logical successor.  His last two presentations at Apple keynotes were very good, and it seems very obvious that Apple/Steve is considering him as a successor.

Back to Jonathan Ive.  The Times says that the Senior Vice Presdent, in charge of Industrial Design of Apple is the cool factor of Apple (I guess when compared to Tim Cook and Phil Schiller that is a no brainer)..

Could this 40-year-old gym-toned, shaven-headed, Aston Martin-driving Brit, who lives in Twin Peaks, San Francisco, with his wife, who is a historian, and their twin sons, be the next man to run Apple Computer?

and isn’t implicated in any stock options backdating. 

The SEC has indicated that it has no plans to take action against Apple, but it has filed fraud charges against Nancy Heinen, the company’s former general counsel, and settled an investigation into Fred Anderson, the computer company’s former chief financial officer.

Despite Apple’s reassurances to the public, many are convinced that the SEC is still circling – and as the case against Ms Heinen progresses (she denies any wrongdoing) interest in Apple’s internal politics is only likely to heighten.

It is thought that Mr Jobs himself has been asked to give an official statement, or deposition, as part of the case. Apple maintains that Mr Jobs did nothing wrong, and is eager to point out that the company has been praised by the SEC for its “swift, extensive and extraordinary cooperation”. Yet Apple is also facing a revised lawsuit from a powerful San Francisco law firm that claims that Mr Jobs made hundreds of millions of dollars from unfairly “backdated” stock options.

No matter how remote the possibility of Mr Jobs standing down might be, some investors would be happier if Mr Ive was named officially as the Apple CEO’s successor to avoid future doubt.

Mark Molumphy, the lawyer who is filing the revised lawsuit against Apple, conceded to The Times that Mr Ive was more or less untouchable as far as the stock options litigation goes. “The evidence we’ve seen does not implicate him,” he said.

Both great qualifications to be sure….

But, he’s not Steve 2.0.    He’s not a techie.  Steve Jobs has a technology background.  He’s hacked AT&T for profit, worked at Atari before Apple and started NeXT between Apple jobs.   He makes many technology decisions that directly affect the direction of the company.  Jonathan Ive..not so much…

“I went through college having a real problem with computers,” he said at a rare speech in 2003. “I was convinced that I was technically inept. Right at the end of my time at college, I discovered the Mac. I remember being astounded at just how much better it was than anything else I had tried to use.”

He also doesn’t have the keynote giving/reality distortion abilities of Jobs – at least not yet.

There are skeptics, of course. Some have suggested that Mr Ive lacks the charisma to become “Steve 2.0”, and that he could never deliver Mr Jobs’s Hollywood-style press conferences, replayed endlessly on YouTube.

Luckily for Apple, Steve Jobs doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  If Steve Jobs left today, Tim Cook, Apple COO would most likely take over the helm, like he did during Steve Jobs’ cancer surgery recovery.  That being said, it is hard to imagine Apple where it is today without the design of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and other devices that came out of Jonathan Ive and his team.

It was the beginning of a remarkable turnaround for Apple, and a series of hit products – including the all-white iMac, the iPod and now the iPhone – that have helped the company’s stock to rise by more than 1,000 per cent in ten years.

Mr Ive and Mr Jobs are said to talk at least once a day, and Mr Ive shares his boss’s perfectionism (it is claimed that Mr Jobs demanded that the iMac not have a single visible screw).

Mr Ive’s salary is not disclosed by Apple, but the company’s revival is thought to have made him very, very wealthy – hence the Aston Martin. It has also brought him many celebrity friends, including Bono, David Byrne, the Talking Heads lead singer, and the designer Paul Smith.

Once described by Business Week magazine as “looking like a graduate student who got lost on the way to Starbucks”, Mr Ive’s rise to power at Apple has astonished company insiders. Apple, after all, is a insular organisation – cultish, some say – and Mr Ive is now considered the Man Behind the Curtain.

“I think Steve Jobs has found somebody in Jony who knows how to complete or even exceed his vision, and do it time and time again,” said Chee Pearlman, who hosted the event at which Mr Ive spoke four years ago.

Mr Ive works in complete secrecy – many Apple employees are not allowed inside his studio – with a dozen or so staff, all of whom earn more than $200,000 a year. His team, which includes a German, an Italian and a New Zealander, is said to come up with some of its best ideas while sitting in the studio’s kitchen eating pizza. Like his boss, and like employees of Apple’s retail stores, Mr Ive turns up to work every morning in jeans, trainers, T-shirt and polo neck sweater. 

more on Mr. Ive at Wikipedia


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