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Jony Ive: Competitors steal Apple's work

In an interview with the UK's Sunday Times, Apple's head of design says that other companies copy "thousands and thousands of hours of struggle."

Pursued by thieves?
Charlie Rose/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Here is the good news: you can make Jony Ive angry. All you have to do is copy his ideas.

How do I know? Because I've just read a long interview with him in the UK's Sunday Times. (It's behind a paywall, but I promise I didn't steal it.)

This interview was part of the Sunday Times Magazine's "Makers" series, and Ive warmed immediately to the concept. "Everyone I work with shares the same love of and respect for making," he explained.

He added: "Objects and their manufacture are inseparable. You understand a product if you understand how it's made."

The problem is that the word "maker" has been co-opted, nay stolen, by the pimple-faced, soft-hearted techies of San Francisco, who are deeply hurt to be called "techies."

Ive, though, believes craft is enjoying a resurgence. He said he once took his iPhone apart and put it back together again, just to prove he could.

Interestingly, the Sunday Times managed to dig up a photo to prove that he once had hair. And lots of it -- spiky like a Bay City Roller. (Look it up.)

The interview takes great pains to describe the great pains Ive takes to make sure the products aren't great pains. This is relatively familiar territory.

But Ive shone a little light into why Apple doesn't exactly make cheap products.

He said:

We're surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It's tempting to think it's because the people who use them don't care -- just like the people who make them. But what we've shown is that people do care. It's not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.

The implication, of course, is that they're prepared to pay for that thoughtfulness.

Ive put it like this: "We make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) beautiful, well-made things. Our success is a victory for purity, integrity -- for giving a damn."

He believes his job is making technology personal and he believes that the relationship people have with Apple products is intimate. (Oh, of course, he vaguely, slightly hinted at an intimate iWatch. But he wasn't going to actually say anything, was he?)

Asked whether all the lining up outside Apple stores to wait for the latest thing isn't intimately insane, he replied: "It's a demonstration against thoughtlessness and carelessness."

I bet you've never thought of it that way. You always thought it was just a bunch of style-obsessed, superficial groupies who are vacuous in the extreme. (At least Samsung thinks so.)

Talking of Samsung -- which Ive specifically did not -- there is talk (and legal action) suggesting the Korean company (and others) occasionally mimics the work of Ive and his team.

Copying clearly annoys him. "It's theft," he said.

He added: "What's copied isn't just a design, it's thousands and thousands of hours of struggle."

Quiet struggle, though. Ive described a "pre-verbal" understanding at Apple about what everyone is trying to achieve.

Apple only gets verbal during the fancy presentations. And when it sues you, of course.