Apple design lead Jony Ive spoke to an audience at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last night, the Wall Street Journal reports, addressing the difficulties in designing an Apple smartwatch. The Apple Watch design process was “difficult and humbling” because of the expectations consumers have with regards to wearable tech and fashion, Ive said, but perhaps his most interesting comment was about his lack of awareness when it comes to Apple’s top and bottom line financials.
Ive made a point about Apple’s focus on product design above other concerns, suggesting that the company is worthy of applause for embracing the ethos that products come first, and profits will follow. To drive home his point, Ive made the surprising confession that he’s not familiar with the actual numbers Apple announced during its most recently quarterly earnings, including its annual revenue of $183 billion, or its $40 billion in profit for its fiscal 2014.
“I honestly don’t know the numbers,” Ive remarked, per the WSJ. “But I know they are high.”
Though Ive professing not to have specific knowledge of the company’s financials might seem odd for a high-level executive reporting directly to the CEO, the celebrated designer is known for his focus on product design, and the fact that he doesn’t pay that much attention to the company’s fiscal performance is a credit to the company’s long-stated belief of putting product before a desire to make money, with the argument being that customers will reward top-quality device design.
Of course, the luxury of being able to focus entirely on product design and ignore money issues is also one afforded pretty much exclusively to companies that are doing well, so it’s not that surprising Ive is able to keep his head down in the studio.
The Apple Watch is set to debut early next year, and Apple is pushing it heavily in fashion circles, including with an editorial photography spread in Vogue and a special preview event in Paris during Fashion Week. It might be the Apple product whose fate rests most heavily on Ive’s shoulders, too, given how much attention has been paid to its design chops so far, and how important design is to a device that’s meant to be worn almost around the clock by its users.