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Is Sir Jony Ive’s big Apple promotion really an exit strategy?

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Jony Ive

Sir Jonathan Ive’s promotion to Chief Design Officer at Apple has been heralded as a reward for his outstanding contribution with a title befitting his incredible influence. However, some folks believe the appointment may mark the first step towards the Brit leaving the company he helped to shape.

Ive’s new position, announced on Monday, relieves him of many of the day-to-day responsibilities of running both the hardware and software design teams at Apple.

Instead, Ive will oversee the strategies in a more hands-off way, while continuing to work on designing Apple’s stores and the interior of its new Cupertino campus. He'll have more freedom and will be doing more traveling.

Analyst Michael Brown wrote on Stratechy (via Mashable): “In my estimation, whether Ive intends it or not — and I think he likely does, for what it’s worth — this is the beginning of the end of his time at Apple. To give up “management” in exchange for “thinking freely” is, when it comes to business, akin to shifting from product-focused R&D to exploratory R&D.”

The analyst also points out the Apple Watch is likely to be the firm’s last major new category for the next few years, meaning there may be little left for Ive to spearhead in the immediate future.

Brown added: “The other reason to suspect it’s time, beyond the orchestration and the very real surrender of responsibility, is, well, the fact it’s the right time. The Watch is here, and there almost certainly won’t be any significant new products from Apple for at least a few years.”

He says Ive’s previously expressed desire to raise children in the UK and a plan for him to travel more could also signal the beginning of the end.

Read more: Apple Watch review

Could Ive be planning to become more of an Apple design evangelist than a major player in the firm's next generation of products? Another tech industry analyst things there’s still plenty for him to achieve at the company before the conquering hero returns to Blighty.

Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies believes the change of role is all about lessening the administrative burden.

He says: “I do believe that he was over-burdened and this type of shift is closer to being the kind of giving him the kind of role he really wanted."

How would Apple look without Sir Jony? Let us know your thoughts below.

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