Wall Street is mourning the exit of Apple's 'irreplaceable' design chief, but is not predicting an existential crisis

GettyJony Ive with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
  • Wall Street analysts are mourning Jony Ive’s decision to quit Apple.
  • Wedbush’s Dan Ives said the design chief is “leaving a hole in the company and is clearly irreplaceable.”
  • But Nomura and Deutsche Bank analysts are not predicting an existential crisis. They say Apple has the executive bench to overcome the loss and pointed out that Ive is not going far.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Wall Street is mourning the departure of one of Apple’s most influential executives.

Design chief Jony Ive announced he was leaving the company on Thursday, bringing down the curtain on an illustrious 30-year tenure during which he was instrumental in iconic creations, including the iPhone.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that Ive’s news was not a massive shock to close Apple watchers. The British executive, now 52, has complained of tiredness and reduced his office hours to just two days a week, Bloomberg said.

Nevertheless, his decision to set up his own firm was viewed as a blow to Apple – which is down roughly 1% in pre-market trading – by some top Wall Street analysts.

Despite Bloomberg’s assessment of Ive shedding his duties, Wedbush’s Dan Ives said his exit is a “surprise to the Street.” He added: “Ive is leaving a hole in the company and is clearly irreplaceable as he has been one of the most important figures at Apple throughout the past few decades.”

Read more: Apple’s departed: Here’s everyone who’s left Apple recently

Deutsche Bank said Ive is second only to CEO Tim Cook in terms of his role in Apple’s success. Analysts at the investment back added that they see “Ive’s contributions to AAPL products as central to the company’s design-centric strategy, which has propelled it to one of the largest companies in the world over the last 20.”

Nomura took a similar view. In a note to clients, it said Ive’s exit “should prompt much nostalgia, and may lead some investors to question Apple’s ability to retain leading industrial design.”

Both investment banks said there will be life after Ive, however.

Nomura said it was a “sensible” time to step back, amid Apple’s efforts to lean into its services division. Apple’s imperious approach to design and innovation “transcends a single individual,” Nomura added.

In a more functional assessment, Deutsche Bank said: “We are confident that AAPL can find others internally to fill some of his responsibilities.”

Wedbush, Nomura, and Deutsche Bank all noted that Ive is not going far. His new company LoveFrom will work closely with Apple, according to the designer. “Ive’s legacy and Apple’s design engine are both secure,” Nomura said.

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