Enlarge / Jony Ive speaks onstage during the 2017 New Yorker TechFest in New York City.Brian Ach/Getty Images

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published a report describing the years and events leading up to design chief Jony Ive's recently announced departure. Among other things, it claimed Ive had become increasingly disengaged from the company and its design teams after Steve Jobs' death, in part because of his frustration with a new, emerging Apple leadership that focused more on operations than design.

In the wake of that report, Apple CEO Tim Cook—who had allegedly frustrated Ive with his lack of interest in product design, the story's sources claimed—emailed NBC News and MSNBC Senior Media Reporter Dylan Byers calling the story "absurd." Cook said its "conclusions just don't match with reality" and claimed that it "distorts" the events described. Byers then claimed on Twitter that a Wall Street Journal spokesperson told him "the paper stands by its report."

The story "is based on conversations over more than a year with people who worked with Mr. Ive, as well as people close to Apples leadership," the Journal says. It claims that Ive clashed with other members of the company's leadership over the positioning of the Apple Watch, which he saw as a fashion-focused product. Meanwhile, unnamed leaders saw it as an extension of the iPhone, and they came to feel that the company had lost its focused on design as key senior roles were stacked with operations and business-focused personnel.

According to the report, Ive was promoted in 2015 to Chief Design Officer not just to recognize his expanded oversight for not just hardware but software, retail, and more, but also as a way to allow him to take more time to work from home to have space from the company to think after a frustrating year that saw the Watch, a product he was heavily invested in, fail to meet initial expectations in the market. The Journal's sources claim Ive sometimes failed to show up for meetings, and seemed disengaged in some that he did attend, dispiriting the design team that admired him.

Ive was given a more involved role again in 2017, the piece says, but he again became less engaged over time, at least in part because he was traveling frequently to the UK to spend time with his ailing father.

Titled "Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple, but His Departure Started Long Ago," the article draws all this together to paint a picture of a company struggling to introduce new products because of the current leadership's emphasis on operational and engineering matters over design ones—supporting many observers' theories about the company's struggles to adapt to a post-Steve Jobs reality.

Cooks response

Here is Cook's emailed response, quoted from a tweet by Byers:

Hi Dylan,

Hope you are well.

The story is absurd. A lot of the reporting, and certainly the conclusions, just don't match reality. At a base level, it shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works. It distorts relationships, decisions, and events to the point that we just don't recognize the company it claimRead More – Source

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Ars Technica

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