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Apple is shaking up the structure of its industrial design team, removing the role of "industrial design chief" and linking operations more closely with design. According to a report from Bloomberg, the core group of about 20 industrial designers will now report to Apple's chief operating officer, Jeff Williams. The move follows the departure of Evans Hankey, who had held the role of vice president of industrial design since 2019 and was a successor to Jony Ive.
The decision to put Williams, a veteran operation executive, in charge of design is unlikely to be well-received by Apple commentators or design and creative staff. However, Williams has been involved with the design team for some time and the Leadership webpage on Apple's website states that he "oversees Apple’s entire worldwide operations, as well as customer service and support" and leads Apple’s health-related projects.
Williams is Seen as a Possible Successor to Tim Cook
Williams is also thought to be a possible successor to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, with Apple reportedly “increasingly focused on succession planning” internally. When asked in 2021 if he would be at Apple in 10 years, Cook said “probably not”.