In rare rebuke, Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly refutes WSJ article on Ive's reasons for departure
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In a rare public rebuke of a story about Apple, CEO Tim Cook has attempted to shoot down a Wall Street Journal article which reported that Ive became disenchanted with Cook's operational focus and relative disinterest in product design. In an email to NBC reported Dylan Byers, Cook lambasts the story as being "absurd." According to the WSJ, Ive started to withdraw from the day-to-day design process after the Apple Watch was released five years ago. This left the "elite design team...rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures," reported the WSJ, citing sources close to the company.
Cook's email to Byers reads:
Hope you are well.
The [WSJ] story is absurd. A lot of the reporting, and certainly the conclusions just don't match with reality. At a base level, it shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works. It distorts relationships, decisions, and events to the point that we just don't recognize the company it claims to describe.
The design team is phenomenally talented. As Jony said, they're stronger than ever, and I have complete confidence that they will thrive under Jeff [Williams], Evans [Hankey] and Alan's [Dye] leadership. We know the truth and we know the incredible things they're capable of doing. The projects they're working on will blow you away.
Apple pundits including John Gruber have cited concerns about the new reporting arrangements that will follow Ive's departure. Ive's current role of Chief Design Officer will not be filled and instead Evans Hankey, VP Industrial Design and Alan Dye, VP Human Interface Design will report to Jeff Williams, Apple's COO. If anything, the new reporting arrangements support the WSJ article with design being overseen by an operations chief, the 2IC of the company. Under former CEO Steve Jobs, design was very much something he involved himself with directly.