Jonathan "Jony" Ive, senior vice president of industrial design at Apple, spoke at the British Embassy's Creative Summit last month. The knighted, British designer, who has worked with Apple to develop the iPhone, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPad and among other devices, took the time to discuss Apple's design process, including the revelation that the company's emphasis is on making good products, not just money.
"We are really pleased with our revenues but our goal isn't to make money. It sounds a little flippant, but it's the truth. Our goal and what makes us excited is to make great products. If we are successful people will like them and if we are operationally competent, we will make money," he said.
According to Ive, this strategy was first implemented in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to the Apple, as the company faced the looming threat of bankruptcy.
"His observation was that the products weren't good enough. His resolve was to make better products."
It's no surprise that Ive puts the emphasis on design.
"I refute that design is important. Design is a prerequisite. Good design -- innovation -- is really hard."
Later he returned to this statement, adding, "Really great design is hard. Good is the enemy of great. Competent design is not too much of a stretch. But if you are trying to do something new, you have challenges on so many axes."
To achieve 'innovation,' Ive explained that his strategy has been to limit the number of projects on his plate to just a few.
The design guru also made a passionate argument that industrial products like Apple's can have immense artistic value.
"You can make one chair carelessly, thoughtlessly, that is valueless. Or you can make a phone [that will eventually go on to be mass produced] and invest so many years of care and have so many people so driven to make the very best phone way beyond any sort of functional imperative that there is incredible value," he said, referring to the iPhone he helped design.
Before ending the speech, Ive reiterated one of Apple's firmest business mantras, "Don't do market research."
"It will guarantee mediocrity and will only work out whether you are going to offend anyone."