Inside Apple’s Long Goodbye to Design Chief Jony Ive

Jony Ive has been leaving Apple Inc. for years. When it was finally made official on Thursday, there was nevertheless hand-wringing about the company’s future.

Ive led a stable, close-knit team of designers who created the slick look and feel of Apple’s hardware and software for more than two decades. At least six members of the group have left in the past three years.

The departures herald a new era. The days when Apple could reliably deliver a whole new category of device — a spare music player, a sleek tablet, an elegant smartphone — every few years have waned. More recently, the company has focused on iterations of its existing lineup. Now, the company needs another hit, but this one will require fundamental technological innovation, not just the design genius of Ive and his team.