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After Steve

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After Steve

How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul

William Morrow,

15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Jony Ive and Tim Cook spent a decade battling for Apple’s soul.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


When Steve Jobs died in 2011, his successors, Tim Cook (CEO) and designer Jony Ive (CDO), struggled to balance Apple’s cutting edge spirit with its juggernaut market dominance. The iPhone was a once in a generation innovation, making Apple the first company in history to reach a $1 trillion valuation. But at what internal cost? Cook was an operations man, while Ive was a visionary designer. The two men never found a synergy, and their lack of collaboration led to them butt heads.In the 10 years after Jobs’s death, Cook consolidated Apple’s global reach as Ive tried to maintain its creative spirit. Cook’s vision prevailed when Jony Ive retired in 2019.


Steve Jobs and designer Jony Ive bonded over a shared minimalist aesthetic.

Steve Jobs hired industrial designer Jony Ive, a kindred spirit, in 1997 and challenged him to design a “joyful” personal computer. Ive came up with rainbow-colored iMacs that transformed people’s relationship with their technology.

In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod, and in 2007, the iPhone, both Ive designs. These groundbreaking devices set a high standard for all future Apple products. They also put Ive under tremendous pressure to keep delivering world-class innovations – especially after Jobs, his creative partner, died in 2011.

Ive grew up in the United Kingdom and attended Newcastle Polytechnic’s design school. He eschewed the fad for postmodern kitsch like mismatched shapes and bright colors, instead favoring the Bauhaus school of simplicity and refinement. He was a star in his class, but he also experienced some frustration. He had ideas he couldn’t manifest because the necessary technology did not yet exist. For example, he invented a contactless payment device, a medallion, decades before Apple Pay. While he earned...

About the Author

Tripp Mickle is a tech reporter for The New York Times. Previously, he wrote for The Wall Street Journal covering “Apple, Google, bourbon and beer.” 

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