Jony Ive takes a (sort of) promotion

Jony Ive, the designer behind Apple's entire portfolio of products, has been promoted to chief design officer; but there are rumours that it's an exit strategy in disguise

The man famous for overseeing the design of Apple’s entire portfolio of products has been promoted to chief design officer.

Previously the senior vice president of design, Ive’s new role will see him relinquish some of his daily duties to take a more overarching look at the company’s design strategy. His new responsibilities will include retails store designs as well as the internal bits and bobs, such as the new Apple Campus currently being built.

Taking on his day-to-day duties, will be two executives, both Apple veterans. Richard Howarth will become the new head of industrial design at Apple, in charge of all things hardware; and Alan Dye will become vice president of user interface design – heading up the software side of things. Both executives will report directly to Ive.

While the announcement seems like a promotion at first glance, rumours have already started to surface, that the move could be part of a larger exit strategy for the famous British designer.

The announcement was made in a rather unorthodox fashion, through an exclusive interview with comedian Stephen Fry. Fry could practically be president of the fanbois club and so it was a shrewd move to drip the information out via a blatantly biased channel.

The timing of the announcement has also drawn suspicion. It was made on a Federal holiday, when the markets were closed, meaning that the impact on the share price would be minimized.

Along with Steve Jobs, Ive has been the poster child for Apple – almost a lucky charm for the company’s unrivaled success. Should Ive choose to return to the UK, it will be interesting to see what happens if, as Fry put it, the one man band loses its one man.

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