Farewell Jony, and farewell Apple of old

Jony, Jony, Jony—now look what you’ve done.

With one little “I quit,” you dragged all of us across the line separating Apple Classic and New Apple.

We had one foot over that line already with Steve’s passing. This just makes it final—the last spiritual connection to the old Apple is now behind us.

Not that your exit is a surprise. You certainly dropped enough hints. Thank you for staying long enough to keep things stable in the post-Steve era.

But yeah, it does hurt a little to see you go off to LoveFrom. Not the career move—I’m talking about the company name. Wish you’d thought a little harder on that one.

Though your resignation was only a matter of time, it has all kinds of meaning. You and Steve were one of the most important pairings in business history.

When we lost Steve, we found solace in two thoughts.

First, we knew that Steve’s had burnt his values into Apple’s DNA. Second, we had you. God of design. Keeper of the Apple flame. Steve’s alter ego. The Un-Fireable One.

Alas, you weren’t the Un-Resignable One.

So the day has finally come and Apple’s last direct link to past glories is severed.

What used to be a company led by people we knew by name must depend on group-think.

Tim Cook relies on a team to make up for the skills he doesn’t personally possess. Design responsibilities now require an org chart.

The new chiefs of hardware and interface design (Evans Hankey and Alan Dye) report to Jeff Williams, who in turn reports to Tim Cook—neither of whom are designers.

This is light years away from the Steve Jobs Way, when a single design chief was joined at the hip with a visionary CEO.

In fact, it’s a flagrant violation of Steve’s most fundamental guidance: keep things simple and don’t operate like a mega-company.

Ah, sweet freedom

Many would say you have the greatest job on earth. You design the world’s coolest products and literally help point the entire world in new directions. How does anyone give that up?

But I’m with you. It’s time to go.

No matter how challenging and rewarding Apple has been for you, staying in one place for 27 years can take its toll in countless ways.

(Sadly, my personal record for longevity in an organization is 4-5 years.)

Apple has grand visions, but your love of design goes far beyond technology. Over time, we heard that little voice in your head as clearly as you did.

So we should celebrate your decision and wish you the best.

How great that there will be a long line of want-to-be-clients at the door of LoveFrom (ugh, that word again) from day one. You’ve earned it.

Don’t get cocky

Remember, even with those amazing accomplishments, your record isn’t exactly squeaky clean—especially in the post-Steve years.

And those are the years that more accurately indicate how you perform without his guidance.

You’re often criticized for pushing form over function, and there are multiple exhibits in this courtroom to support the criticism.

Fresh in our minds is the problematic MacBook keyboard, a sad sacrifice made only in the name of thin-ness.

There’s the Apple TV Remote—probably the most unusable TV remote ever made; the original iMac mouse, seemingly untested with humans; the AirPower charger, killed by the laws of physics before it even shipped.

So, yeah, a little humility is in order.

Apple will be fine…

I don’t worry about Apple’s future. I just know it won’t be like Apple’s past.

The Walt Disney company floundered after Walt died, ultimately finding its footing years later. It expanded (and keeps expanding) in ways Mr. Imagination couldn’t imagine.

I’m sure Apple will do the same. In 20 years, it will be a very different company. History will show that you were part of the team that set it in motion, even if you didn’t see where it was all leading.

… unless it won’t be

The Steve & Jony Show ran for over 20 years. I think you actually invented this thing called “technology lust”—the result of your obsession with quality, design and simplicity.

That said, the final season of your series didn’t get great reviews. Which leads to all kinds of negative thoughts if one is so disposed…

Apple could become the classic band that keeps going after the founding members have left—sounding more like a tribute band than the original.

With responsibilities spread out among more people, the company’s vision will be less pure.

Worst of all, Apple will forever be compared to something that simply can’t be duplicated—its former self.

As I tend to do, I flip back and forth between optimist and worrier. Today I’m an optimist. I think that parting ways at this point is better for both you and Apple.

It gives Apple another opportunity to think different. And at long last, it allows you to spread your wings without limitations at LoveFrom.

So best of luck on the rest of your journey. But please—there’s still time to change that company name.