Jonathan Ive: Steve Jobs stole my ideas

Apple's design wizard, Jonathan Ive, considered Jobs a friend. But he bristled when the Apple chief took credit for his ideas.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Jonathan Ive, Apple's  vice president of Industrial Design
Jonathan Ive, Apple's vice president of Industrial Design Apple

Jonathan "Jony" Ive, Apple's chief industrial designer, counted Steve Jobs among his closest friends but bristled when the man took credit for the ideas of others--especially his own.

In his new biography of Jobs, author Walter Isaacson portrayed Ive as an artist with a "sensitive temperament" who, like other colleagues, got upset when Jobs took too much credit for ideas he hadn't originated. Ive was especially wounded because he held personal feelings for and a true friendship with Jobs.

"He [Jobs] will go through a process of looking at my ideas and say, 'That's no good. That's not very good. I like that one,'" Ive told Isaacson. "And later I will be sitting in the audience and he will be talking about it as if it was his idea. I pay maniacal attention to where an idea comes from, and I even keep notebooks filled with my ideas. So it hurts when he takes credit for one of my designs."

Ive was also upset when people outside the company saw Jobs as Apple's only idea man.

"That makes us vulnerable as a company," Ive said to Isaacson.

But in the long run, Ive praised Jobs for the motivation he provided to turn ideas into reality.

"In so many other companies, ideas and great design get lost in the process," Ive said. "The ideas that come from me and my team would have been completely irrelevant, nowhere, if Steve hadn't been here to push us, work with us, and drive through all the resistance to turn our ideas into products."

Jobs and Ive often ate lunch together and collaborated on different Apple products. Jobs also held the design wizard in high esteem.

"He understands what we do at our core better than anyone," Jobs had told Isaacson for the biography. "If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it's Jony."

Last year, both Jobs and Ive were named by Fortune as among the smartest people in technology. In giving Jobs top honors among all CEOs, the magazine referred to him as a "visionary, a micromanager, and a showman." Naming Ive as the top designer in technology, Fortune credited him as the person who created the iPhone and said that "from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, his contributions have set the course not just for Apple but for design more broadly."