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Jony Ive: Flattered by rivals' designs? Nah, its 'theft'

Oh and it's 'lazy', says Apple iPad and iMac Knight of the Realm

Photo of Jonathan Ive

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the saying goes, but Apple’s design guru and very precious genius Sir Jony Ive doesn’t see it that way - he reckons its more like robbery.

The knighted creator of all things i-related was asked by an audience member at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Fran, if similar designs from rivals such as Xiaomi was a validating pat on the back.

“I think it’s really straightforward: it really is theft, and it’s lazy and I don’t think it’s OK at all,” he responded, admitting this was maybe “a little bit harsh”, and made him sound “perhaps a little bit bitter”.

His Cupertino-based employer has waged many battles, via legal eagles, over patent infringement with different companies over the year, and came out on top in a case against nemesis Samsung in 2012.

The latest product from Ive and his 16-strong design team is the Apple watch, which should be winding its way to market at some point in the New Year, though it clearly won’t be using sapphire glass from GT Advanced Tech.

Ive told the audience:

“When we started working on it, it seemed like a very natural, obvious place for technology to end up”. He said the ‘Watch’ is a move away from the traditional perception of consumer electronics.

The Watch, more so than the iPad or iMac is a fashion accessory, and over recent years Apple has been heavily recruiting senior execs from that industry, including the former boss at Burberry.

And, although firms such as Pebble et al will say they’ve stolen a march on Apple, they’ll probably be privately hoping to make the most of sales this Christmas before the Watch hits the streets.

Channel analyst Canalys last month said it was “pretty sceptical” consumers will want to read emails, look at photos or listen to music on a watch when a smartphone and other gadgets suffice.

One potential application that did whet the consultant’s interest was the monitoring of people’s sweat to check, among others things, the blood sugar levels of diabetes suffers, but this is unlikely to feature in the first generation.

Apple is expected to next week lift the covers off a new iPad in time for the holiday season. ®