Apple hardware design chief Evans Hankey is leaving the iPhone maker after three years on the job, according to people familiar with the matter, one of the top jobs at the company known for its sleek-looking products. .
Hankey was appointed to the role in 2019, succeeding Jony Ive, the company’s iconic chief designer for two decades. Before assuming his current role as vice president of industrial design, Hankey spent several years at Apple reporting to Ive. Since then, he has reported to Director of Operations Jeff Williams.
The departure was announced this week inside the Cupertino, California-based technology company, and Hankey told his colleagues that he would stay at Apple for the next six months. Hankey oversees several dozen industrial designers, and the company has not named a replacement.
His pending departure marks the first time Apple will not have a de facto chief designer since co-founder Steve Jobs reasserted control of the company in the late 1990s and hired Ive. Richard Howarth, a key designer on the Ive and Hankey teams, briefly held the role of head of industrial design between 2015 and 2017, reporting to Ive.
Apple confirmed Friday that Hankey is retiring.
“Apple’s design team brings together expert creators from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are unmistakably Apple,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience. Evans plans to continue working with us through the transition and we’d like to thank them for his leadership and contributions.”
The beauty of Apple products, including the once-revolutionary idea of a phone that was just a screen, helped bring the company back under Jobs. And it remains a key differentiator under CEO Tim Cook, helping fend off rivals like Samsung Electronics and Amazon and making Apple the world’s most valuable business. According to analyst estimates, the company is on track to hit $400 billion (approximately Rs. 33,05,100 crore) in sales this year, a new record.
Apple has weathered this year’s tech slump like one of the best. Its shares are down nearly 19 percent in 2022, compared with a 32 percent drop in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index. Apple rose 1 percent on Friday.
The void left by Hankey could affect Apple’s future design plans and raise new questions about how its products will evolve in the post-Ive era. It’s unclear if Hankey will move to another company.
Ive has cast a long shadow over Apple even after his departure in 2019. The British-born executive left to start his own design firm called LoveFrom, and Apple became one of his biggest clients. But that arrangement ended this year.
Apple is working on key new devices, including a mixed reality headset for next year and augmented reality glasses at a later date. There will also likely be an electric car sometime in this decade.
Alan Dye, Apple’s head of software and user interface design, is not going anywhere and will continue to report to Williams, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Dye was also promoted in 2019 following Ive’s departure. He added that Gary Butcher, formerly a senior designer in the Dye division and currently vice president of design at Airbnb, is returning to Apple.