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Apple's Ive: If we can't make something that's better, we won't do it

Jony Ive
Duffy-Marie Arnoult / WireImage

Sir Jonathan "Jony" Ive, Apple's Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, recently agreed to a rare interview, in this case with a U.K. publication. He spoke at length about how Apple's approach to product design, its focus, and its obsession with detail differentiate it from everyone else.

The interview was conducted by the London Evening Standard's Mark Prigg and I strongly suggest reading it in full, as it isn't often that we're granted a peek into the minds which run Apple. And make no mistake about it — Ive's brilliant mind is one of the keys to maintaining Apple's legacy.

As Reuters explains, Ive has "played a key role in Apple's success, dreaming up the distinct look and feel of the phones, computers and other gadgets that have become consumer must-haves." In the absence of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, it will be up to him to make sure the Cupertino-based company hangs on to its standards of design and functionality. And he certainly should be able to handle the task, considering that according to Walter Isaacson — the writer of Steve Jobs' biography — Ive was left with "more operational power" than anyone at Apple.

So, what's his secret? Fascination, focus and insight:

"It is so important to be light on your feet, inquisitive and interested in being wrong," Ive told Prigg. "You have that  wonderful fascination with the what if questions, but you also need absolute focus and a keen insight into the context and what is important — that is really terribly important. Its about contradictions you have to navigate."

He explains that having the correct goals — to create a product that is genuinely better rather than just something that appears new — is one of the key things which differentiates Apple from its competitors. That "sincere, genuine appetite to do something that is better" is what keeps the show running.

Well, that and one very simple rule. "If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it," explains Ive.

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