Something is happening in Cupertino. According to the Wall Street Journal, the members of Apple’s core industrial design team are leaving the company at a steady rate. These are the folks that designed the iPhone. Now, sources say, they’re done. Who knows what this means.
Anonymous sources told the Journal that Rico Zorkendorfer and Daniele De Iuliis are departing and Julian Hönig will be gone in the coming months. These folks joined the industrial design team back when Steve Jobs was still around. All of them were part of the small industrial design team known internally as ID. This is the group that has historically been led by Jony Ive, though he left his day-to-day role on ID in 2015 to help with the new Apple Park campus. Ive resumed leadership over the ID group in December 2017.
So what’s with the upheaval? One might assume, based on what’s happened in the last few months, that Apple is shifting its focus away from hardware and towards services, which could be a more dependable revenue stream. An industrial designer with a portfolio as robust as those who created the iPhone might not want to be a part of making Apple Music or Apple News+ better. In general, it seems like Apple’s new hardware ambitions are waning. Self-driving cars and augmented reality are two terms that often pop up in discussions of the future of the company’s technology.
Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Are these seasoned Apple designers leaving because they’re bored? It’s unclear. Are they leaving because they don’t see much of a future for industrial design at Apple? Hard to know. Was his role in the spaceship campus the last great accomplishment of Jony Ive? Time will tell.