Speaking at the British Embassy’s Creative Summit, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, Jonathan Ive may have caught a few people off guard when he stated that his company’s goal isn’t to make money.
“We are really pleased with our revenues but our goal isn’t to make money. It sounds a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what makes us excited is to make great products. If we are successful people will like them and if we are operationally competent, we will make money,” Ive told the attendees.
Reflecting on Apple’s struggle to avoid bankruptcy in the 90s, Ive stated how successful organization could learn a lot from one that is failing. Outlining Steve Jobs’ return to the company in 1997 and how the bulk of his focus was on improving products. This strategy was completely different from the Apple’s failed attempts to restructure the company based on cutting costs.
Ive explained how it’s possible to mass-produce a product, while maintaining skills as craftsmen, stating “I refute that design is important. Design is a prerequisite. Good design innovation is really hard,” said Ive. “We say no to a lot of things that we want to do and are intrigued by so that we only work on a manageable amount of products and can invest an incredible amount of care on each of them.”
Apple’s maintained a limited product portfolio for several years. While the company is known for its innovation, its dedicated focus has been on a set group of products.
Ive became Apple’s lead designer in 1997 and after nearly fifteen years, he still has a tremendous amount of passion for the creative process. “To me I still think it’s remarkable that at a point in time on a Tuesday afternoon there isn’t an idea and then suddenly later on there is an idea. Invariably they start as a tentative, barely-formed thought that becomes a conversation between a couple of people,” said Ive.
Ive discussed the creative process, and not market research, to the success of Apple’s products. To go through “the most incredible transition,” when describing the production from a singular thought to a finished product. Ive ended his segment by reminding the audience that it is a designer’s responsibility to recognize these opportunities and to be familiar with technologies used to create new products.