The new arrangement freed Mr. Yves from regular commutes to the company’s offices in Cupertino. It has gone from almost daily product reviews to an irregular schedule when weeks go by without weight. Sometimes news would spread through the studio that he was coming unexpectedly into the office. Staff compared the moments that followed with old footage of the stock market crash of the 1920s with papers being tossed into the air and people scurrying around in a furious rush to prepare for his arrival.
As expectations mounted on Wall Street for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary in early 2017, Mr. Eve summoned the company’s top software designers to San Francisco for a product review. A team of about 20 people arrived at the city’s exclusive social club, The Battery, and began posting 11″ x 17″ prints of design ideas in the club’s shed. They needed Mr. Eve’s approval of many features in the first full-screen iPhone.
On that day they waited nearly three hours for Mr. Eve. When he finally arrived, he didn’t apologise. Review the literature and provide feedback. Then he left without making final decisions. With their work on hold, many wondered: How did it get to this point?
In Mr. Eve’s absence, Mr. Cook began to remake the company in his own image. Outgoing company director Mickey Drexler, the talented marketer who built Gap and J. Crew, has been replaced by James Bell, Boeing’s former chief financial officer. Mr. Eve was furious that a left-minded CEO had replaced one of the few right-minded board leaders. He complained to a colleague: “He’s another one of those accountants.”
Mr. Cook also encouraged the company’s financial management, which began auditing outside contractors. At one point, the circuit rejected a legitimate bill submitted by Foster + Partners, the architecture firm that has been working closely with Mr. Yves to complete the company’s new $5 billion campus, Apple Park.
In the midst of those struggles, Mr. Cook began expanding Apple’s strategy to sell more services. During a corporate retreat in 2017, Ive got outside to get some fresh air when Apple newcomer Peter Stern presented to the company’s top leaders. Mr. Stern clicked on a slide of an X-shaped graph that showed Apple’s profit margins slipping from sales of the iPhone, iPad and Mac, while profit margins rose from sales of software and services such as iCloud storage.
The show upset some audience. He envisioned a future in which Mr. Eve – and the company’s business as a producer – would be less important, and Mr. Cook’s growing focus on services, such as Apple Music and iCloud, would be even more important.