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Jony Ive on the Steve Jobs to Tim Cook transition: "Honestly, I don't think anything's changed"


With WWDC 2014 now behind us, many are holding up this year's developers conference as the moment when Tim Cook and Apple were able to finally step out of the long shadow cast by Steve Jobs.

What's interesting, though, is that while those on the outside are often quick to contrast and compare Apple under Steve Jobs to Apple under Tim Cook, Apple executives themselves will be the first to tell you that not a whole lot about Apple's innovative and operational processes have changed. This, of course, is the result of Steve Jobs assembling a talented team of executives, engineers, and designers that continue to work within the framework of product development that he helped shape.

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a profile on Cook wherein Apple design guru Jony Ive explained that it's still business as usual over at 1 Infinite Loop.

"Honestly, I don't think anything's changed," Ive explained, noting that the central mission of Apple remains innovation.

"Steve established a set of values and he established preoccupations and tones that are completely enduring," Mr. Ive said. Chief among them is a reliance on small creative teams whose membership remains intact to this day. The philosophy that materials and products are intertwined also continues under Mr. Cook.

This brings to mind a statement made by Apple executive Eddy Cue just a few weeks ago. While speaking at the first annual Code Conference, Cue explained that the passing of Steve Jobs did not necessitate Apple having to "reset" but rather transition.

While Apple in a broad sense hasn't changed, there are of course differences in how Cook and Jobs personally involved themselves with Apple's product designs.

If Mr. Jobs was maniacal about design, Mr. Cook projects "quiet consideration," Mr. Ive said. Mr. Cook digests things carefully, with time, which Mr. Ive said "testifies to the fact he knows it's important."

Lower-level employees praise Mr. Cook's approachability and intellect. But some say he is less hands-on in developing products than his predecessor.

This of course shouldn't come a surprise to many as even Steve Jobs noted in his biography that Tim Cook isn't necessarily a product guy. Nonetheless, Apple under the helm of Tim Cook has soared to new heights. The company's share price (adjusted for stock splits) is on the brink of an all-time high while iPhone sales figures continue to impress even the most cynical of analysts. Though critics have been quick to call out the Cook-era at Apple for having no new innovative products or product categories to speak of, Eddy Cue recently said that Apple's 2014 product lineup is the best he's seen in 25 years.

Suffice it to say, it's going to be an interesting Fall.

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