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Jony Ive wanted to combine MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines

Former Apple design chief Jony Ive

Former Apple design chief Jony Ive wanted to converge the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro into one product line, an anecdote on his working relationship with CEO Tim Cook reveals.

Jony Ive was an important part of Apple's product designs over the years, putting his hand on almost everything that the company came out with for a long period. However, not everything went his way.

During an episode of The Vergecast first spotted by Notebook Check, veteran journalist Walt Mossberg retold an anecdote that he was told from a "high level source" who was very knowledgeable about the company's products. Mossberg explained that, due to changes in how co-founder Steve Jobs and Tim Cook worked with Ive, there was at one point a possibility that the MacBook lineup would be pared down from two ranges to just one.

"Tim is a guy who knows what he doesn't know. He knew he wasn't a product guy," Mossberg starts. Because of this, Tim Cook handed more power over to Jony Ive, both in hardware and in software, due to not handling the designer in a similar way to Jobs.

"Steve Jobs was his editor," he continues. "Steve Jobs would pull him away from his crazier instincts. Steve Jobs would say no to some things and yes to other things. Tim Cook didn't do that."

After providing Ive with more control and with Ive lacking the editorial oversight, Ive decided "there didn't need to be an Air and a Pro," Mossberg explains.

"He decided he could do the Pro and make it as light and as thin or thinner than the MacBook Air. And it would be a higher price machine, so that would be better for their bottom line and people would buy it even if they didn't need the extra power it gave," the journalist continued.

While Jobs wanted two notebooks covering consumer and Pro users, Ive wanted just one. This way of thinking started "a big war between the design team and its acolytes" led by Ive, and the "engineering and product manager side of the company."

The pushback from engineering was due to it desperately wanting an improved version of the Air, since "the Air was their best-selling product, probably the best-selling laptop in the world, the thing everyone was chasing, and they did not want to leave it on a hill to die."

Mossberg concludes the anecdote by saying "the product guys and the engineers managed to yank it back. And they brought out a new MacBook Air with very minimal changes, but it was a new model."

While Mossberg admits the story doesn't have "journalistic rigor" due to it being from one source with little other evidence, anecdotes from elsewhere certainly help make it seem true.

In 2019, biographer Walter Isaacson claimed he knew Ive was reducing his role at Apple, and insisted that his biography on Steve Jobs "softened" complaints from the co-founder about Tim Cook "not being a product guy."