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Can Angela Ahrendts Keep Jonathan Ive and the Apple Interface Real?

Tue October 15 2013 10:39 am
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Or is Apple’s Big New Hire, Angela Ahrendts, a Luxury Play that signals disaster of style over substance for the future of Apple?

Sharif Sakr, senior European Editor at Endgame, discusses Angela Ahrendts move to join Apple as senior VP of retail and online sales and the challenge of bringing changes to Apple’s retail outlets.

Apple announced today that it hired Angela Ahrendts, the chief executive of British luxury fashion company Burberry, the British luxury fashion company, as a member of its executive team. She will be working at Apple Inc. by the end of Spring 2014.

Angela Ahrendts will serve in a newly created role as senior vice president overseeing the strategy and operation of its retail and online stores. She worked as CEO of Burberry since 2006. Burberry, founded in 1856, is headquartered in London and listed on the London Stock Exchange. She most certainly would bring experience in gathering feedback from the retail channel. That feedback would hopefully meet receptive ears in the product design departments.

“We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.”

— Steve Jobs, Fortune Magazine, January 4, 2000

The development is particularly interesting regarding anticipation of the forthcoming interaction of Angela Ahrendts and Sir Jonathan Ive, who recently said that if he wasn’t designing Apple products, he would like to design drinking cups. Jonathan Ive seems to have become so obsessed with design, that he can’t see the forest for the trees. An interface should be attractive and extremely important, but it shouldn’t get in the way. That is a challenge for human-machine interface designers. Jonathan Ive has received some criticism for bringing the hyper-pastel and neon interface to iOS 7 without any alternatives. Some people think the graphics are harsh and hyper-contrasted. Some have even reported nausea from motion of the interface. Users miss the opportunity to keep the more “lickable” 3D icons with richer colors of pre-iOS 7. Jonathan Ive just might be a high tech example of the Peter Principle in the design realm. Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails. This is “The Generalized Peter Principle.” Apple and Ive seem to be fighting the Generalized Peter Principle, but their efforts to improve their interface in iOS 7 almost appears to be following Android OS and Microsft, when they really should still be the leaders of interface design. Jonathan Ive appears to have reached a level of incompetence by going too far off base with the interface while working on innovation, but forgetting the heart of human-interface design principles that keep things simple. The simplicity design is what has made Apple the leader in product design, usability, and customer satisfaction.

Will Angela Ahrendts spin Sir Jonahan Ive’s design obsessions? Or will she be the voice of customer feedback with effective two-way communications between retail customers and Apple?

Burberry Chairman Sir John Peace discusses with Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey the news that Angela will step down as Chief Executive Officer by mid-2014, with Christopher assuming the role of Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer.

On May 8, 2010 Angela Ahrendts, Chief Executive Officer of Burberry, returned to her alma mater, Ball State University in Indiana, to give the commencement address. She was also presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the university at the commencement ceremony.

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