Apple’s design boss Jony Ive gave a rare live interview at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment in San Francisco Thursday night.
At one point, a member of the audience asked Ive what he thought about Xiaomi, a Chinese startup that makes smartphones with a remarkable similarity to iPhones.
Ive, speaking broadly about Xiaomi and other companies that make products that look similar to Apple gadgets, called it outright theft.
“I don’t see it as flattery. I see it as theft,” Ive said. “I have to be honest. The last think I think is ‘Oh, that is flattering…all those weekends I could’ve been home with my family…I think it’s theft and it’s lazy. I don’t think it’s OK at all.”
Ive said he and his team spend so much time designing products that it’s frustrating to see others swoop in and copy those ideas.
Ive has reason to be critical of Xiaomi. Xiaomi phones are only sold in China and a few other countries, but they’re incredibly popular. In fact, Xiaomi sells more phones in China than Apple does. That’s because Xiaomi phones are high-quality devices, but cost at least half as much as an iPhone.