Analysis Apple deity Sir Jony Ive claims that companies which offer mass customisation are "abdicating responsibility" for their design. While he hasn’t named names, Motorola appears to have taken umbrage and asked: “Are you looking at me?”
In a long interview in The New Yorker, Ive says of an unnamed rival, “Their value proposition was ‘Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever color you want.’ And I believe that’s abdicating your responsibility as a designer.”
Motorola boss Rick Osterloh hit back at what could be seen as a slight on the Moto Maker scheme, where users can change the appearance of a Moto X and is much like NikeID, where you design your own trainers.
Motorola and Ive have history. Ten years ago – before the iPhone – Geoffrey Frost, the ex-Nike chief marketing officer of Motorola, offered Ive “whatever he wanted” to join Moto and made several trips from Chicago to Cupertino. Ive refused and Moto flirted with taking on Ive’s pal Marc Newson before employing the manager of the first internal design studio at Apple, Tim Parsey.
Moto wanted to be Apple before Apple was Apple. But it seems this is no longer the case. Rick Osterloh, president of Motorola, told the BBC his company had a "different philosophy", adding: "Our belief is that the end user should be directly involved in the process of designing products.”
The ultimate embodiment of this Project Ara, which allows consumers to design the function as well as the appearance of a phone was started under Google’s stewardship of Motorola and remained with The Chocolate Factory when its husk was sold to Lenovo.
However, it wasn’t the first time Motorola flirted with modular mobiles, but then no one has ever accused Apple of being as open with its standards as Ive is with his opinions. ®