Apple CEO Tim Cook responds to story about Jony Ive’s departure

Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) and Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, look over the new Mac Pro Display and computer at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California on June 3, 2019.

Brittany Hosea-Small | AFP | Getty Images

The buzz of the tech world this week was a new report from The Wall Street Journal that charted the last few years of Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive before his announced departure last Thursday.

The Journal’s article painted a picture of a checked-out executive who didn’t show up to important meetings and spent his last few years at Apple taking a hands-off approach to leading Apple’s design team. The story also implied that the company became less focused on the breakthrough products Ive is known for and more focused on its operations and other initiatives under CEO Tim Cook’s leadership.

Usually when a highly critical story about Apple comes out, the company remains silent and lets it blow over. (Apple initially declined to comment on the Journal’s story Sunday.)

But the Journal’s report spurred a lot of discussion and confusion about the current state of Apple, and it drew a rare response from Cook by late Monday afternoon.

In an email to NBC News, Cook called the Journal story “absurd.”

“At a base level, it shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works,” Cook wrote in the email. “It distorts relationships, decisions and events to the point that we just don’t recognize the company it claims to describe.”

It’s important to note that Cook didn’t refute any of the facts in the Journal’s story, and the paper told NBC News that it stands by its reporting. Plus, the carefully worded response was nowhere near as strong as when Cook called for a full retraction of Bloomberg’s “Big Hack” story last year.

But Cook still had to go on the offensive.

In the Journal story, Cook and his COO Jeff Williams, who will now run Apple’s design team, came off as operations nerds who have steered Apple…

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