Apple's installed base looks nothing like it did when Jony began Apple Watch development in late 2011 or a few years ago when he was promoted to the Chief Design Officer in 2015.
Having Apple-installed base grows more than five times in just eight years contain different implications for Jony and Apple.
There is an undeniable greater thirst for tools that are capable of changing people's lives. Instead of selling 170M units per year in 2011, Apple is on the way to selling 320M units in 201
The days of focusing heavily on the company's top talent and resources on one major new product initiative are in the rear view mirror. Apple now finds having to lead several massive teams that change different paradigm shifts at the same time.
The management changes Apple announced three weeks ago were not powered by any product. Instead, the changes recognize how much Apple has grown over the years. Not only has the overall design team grown, but the expectations of Jony continued to increase. For a creative like Jony, having a company of one billion users, depends on all your decisions becoming a burden. Expectational debt can be toxic to a creative. We see that management is making changes to the Apple computer to allow it to work as originally intended.
The Apple machine describes the process that drives the company's design-led organization utilizing the power of small groups. By ensuring that collaboration exists between multiple disciplines and views in this small group structure, Apple is able to keep the user experience a priority during product development.
Jony and Steve did not build this machine to depend on one of them. Such a machine would be insufficient and unsustainable. Instead, the machine was designed to take on a certain level of autonomy to instill Apple's value into all employees. Over the past 15 years, most of Apple's management changes have occurred to let the machine work as desired. Any obstacles or perceived threats to the machine have been removed.
Changes to the machine
15 years ago, Apple had a good governance structure that included a curator overseeing most product decisions. However, Apple was a much smaller company in the early 2000s.
Apple now finds doing much more.
The company accepts a dramatic change in product strategy where management pushes all major product categories forward simultaneously. This has never happened before.
Apple moves deeper into content distribution services that include coming up with original content. The company believes it has something to add to the mix when it comes to data integrity and curation that other companies do not have as much of an incentive to maintain.
Apple's annual R&D spending has grown nearly seven times over the past eight years, reflecting a company that examines many more ambitious ideas and technologies.
Takeaway from Jony and Jeff Williams news, and this is something I did not fully think of until two weeks ago, is that the Apple computer operates at such a speed and scale, it is not realistic to believe that a person can control or run the machine. Instead, we see Apple fine-tune the machine for greater autonomy.
Simply put, the ability of the Apple machine to automate has been grossly underestimated over the years, while the idea that some individuals need to monitor the machine 24/7 has been overestimated.
An example of this autonomy is seen with the structure involving Jeff Williams and Apple design. By giving Williams control over the design team, it seems like a formidable task based on size and scope. But the structure makes more sense when considering the degree of autonomy that exists in design and other layers on Apple. It is not that Williams moves into a kind of product-czar role, and that every decision must be run by the same concierge. Such a structure is not sustainable given Apple's size. Instead, designers of various disciplines have gained a greater overview of the user experience while Williams works with Evans Hankey and Alan Dye to ensure that everyone remains on the same page.
Apple's Growth History
The clearest evidence that the latest leadership is not being driven by a kind of growth crisis is that Apple already has a functioning growth history.
Place the iPhone and iPad as the strongest sources of new users in the ecosystem.
Place wearables as alternatives to iPhone and iPad.
Come up with services that add value to Apple hardware and the broader Apple ecosystem.
Apple will probably add about 50 million people to the iPhone installation base in 2019 despite the fact that unit sales are down by about 14%. A great opportunity for Apple appeals to 40% + of its installed base that still only uses an Apple device: an iPhone. The iPad installed base will grow by around 30 million users in 2019. Apple presents its most aggressive Services rollout to date. Apple's wearables platform has a strong momentum.
The Jony Ive / Jeff Williams news doesn't mean Apple is building a brand new machine development of product development. Instead, Apple continues to rely on the existing machine, but modifications are being made to make it work more efficiently. Additional brackets and supports have been added and parts have been replaced for improved components. Apple is betting on its existing machine in an effort to remain a design company focused on coming up with tools that people love.
Receive my analysis and perspective on Apple through the week through exclusive daily updates (2-3 stories per day, 10-12 stories per week). Available to over Avalon members. To register and for more information on membership, visit the member page .