News: Apple is to bring its hardware and software design teams closer together as part of a major shake-up of its management team. The move follows claims that the company is "a little bit behind" in integrating industrial and digital design and criticism of its attachment to skeuomorphic design.
In a statement issued last night, Apple announced "executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams."
Jonathan Ive (above) will head up a new human interface (HI) department while maintaining his role in charge of industrial design.
Apple also announced the departure of Scott Forstall, the senior vice president of iOS software and a strong proponent of the controversial "skeuomorphic" approach to software design, which involves creating applications that mimic real-world objects such as leather-effect diaries and timber-style bookshelves.
It is understood that Forstall and Ive, senior vice president of industrial design, disagreed strongly about this approach. In an interview with the Telegraph earlier this year, Ive winced when asked about the fake-leather stitching on Apple's Calendar application.
"My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that's our focus and that's our responsibility," Ive told the interviewer. "In terms of those elements you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that."
The contrast between the minimalist approach to Apple's hardware and its skeuomorphic software has led to ridicule within the design world. In an interview with Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs last month, San Fransisco designer Yves Behar said: "Obviously they didn’t go there with the hardware so why did they go there with the software? It’s a really good question."
Behar added that bringing hardware and software design teams together represented "a whole new blue ocean for us as designers." "Apple actually is a little bit behind in that area," he said. "Apple is designing their product and their software separately.”
Ive's industrial design team was named best design studio of the past 50 years by D&AD in September. Apple's statement said: "Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade".
Ive came to prominence with the launch of the revolutionary first iMac in 1998, which featured a coloured, translucent case. Since then his design aesthetic has evolved into a purer, more minimal style that appears to be influenced by the work of German designer Dieter Rams.
Forstall, who was held responsible for the bungled launch of Apple Maps on the new iPhone 5, is to serve as adviser to CEO Tim Cook in the interim before leaving next year. Other changes announced by Apple will see senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue - whose team is already responsible for the iTunes Store, the App Store, the iBookstore and iCloud - take on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps.
Senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi will lead development of both the iOS and OS X operating platforms, previously run by separate teams, and Bob Mansfield will lead a new department combining all the company's teams working on wireless technologies. Head of retail John Browett is also leaving Apple.
Top image: the iPad mini, launched last week