The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here we are, once again debating whether or not the departure of a single prominent Apple employee signals doom for the company. This time it’s designer extraordinaire Jony Ive who’s leaving the company, though the reception to his exit is decidedly mixed. Some feel Ive is the embodiment of an Apple that’s placed too high a value on form over function; others worry that the company won’t be able to keep delivering world-class design without him. Neither of these is precisely true—and they’re definitely not both true.
Apple’s lost plenty of key personnel before, and though Ive’s profile may be higher than some, the situation is, in the end, not different significantly different than some of the others who have left in the past. Allow me to remind you of a few faces from years gone by who are no longer with Apple and yet, amazingly, did not leave the company in flames behind them.
Remember Scott Forstall? Like Ive, Forstall had plenty of history at Apple, having come over from NeXT when it was bought by Apple in 1997. He was instrumental in a number of important projects, including Safari, the Aqua interface of Mac OS X, and, most famously, shepherding the software development of the iPhone and the iPad, which he pushed to have built on the same underlying software as the Mac, rather than the iPod.
When he left in 2012, Forstall was the senior vice president of iOS software. His departure came in the wake of iOS 6, the contentious release that replaced Google Maps with Apple’s own homegrown mapping solution. Forstall is often remembered as an advocate for the skeuomorphic look of iOS’s early releases (remember stitched leather and the wood bookshelf of Newsstand), and not unlike Ive, his departure was one that spawned mixed emotion in Apple fans. While some thought he was standing in the way of Apple’s…