Still, if Ive has shown anything over the past ten years, it's that he values a marriage of form and function rather than simply emphasizing one or the other. He's also incredibly detail-oriented -- the asymmetric fan blades on the redesigned MacBook Pros comes to mind.
Apple's strength has always been about the intersection of hardware and software into one perfect widget, something that the company has ably accomplished with its iOS devices and most recent Macs, and it seems likely the company and its users will benefit from a unified approach to human interface.
Grand unified theory
With iOS chief Scott Forstall gone, his responsibilities have been scattered to the four winds. The bulk of it will be picked up by senior vice president Craig Federighi, who previously oversaw Mac OS X.
If Federighi is one of the less familiar names in Apple's pantheon, that's because he was only recently elevated to the company's executive team. However, he's played a crucial role in OS X for many years, and has effectively run the Mac software division since the departure of Bertrand Serlet last year.
Apple's been more insistent in the past couple years that iOS and OS X are essentially two sides of the same coin. Beginning with the Back to the Mac event of 2010, Apple has worked to bring features from iOS to OS X, and that's only intensified with Mountain Lion, which brought elements like iMessage, Game Center, and notifications to the Mac's operating system. Expect that trend of sharing to continue moving forward.
It also might mean more releases of the two operating systems in concert. iOS 6 and Mountain Lion appeared in close proximity this year, and among the highlights of the two were features that either appeared on both (Mail VIPs, Facebook sharing) or capabilities that emphasized the connection between Apple's mobile and desktop platforms (iCloud Tabs).
As with unifying its hardware and software experience, developing closer ties between its two major platforms is doubtlessly an important part of Apple's strategy in the years ahead, and putting both under the aegis of a single executive can help insure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
Services have never been Apple's strong point. From the company's eWorld online service of the 1990s to the last decade's revolving door of Internet offerings -- iTools, .Mac, MobileMe, iCloud -- Cupertino has taken a lot of flack, much of it earned, for unreliability and missing features.
There are, however, bright spots in the mix, particularly the iTunes Store and its affiliated App Store and iBookstore. (It doesn't hurt that they generate revenue at a healthy clip.) As such, it's no surprise that Monday's reshuffle saw two of Apple's lately problematic service-based features, Siri and Maps, assigned to senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue. Cue's no stranger to taking on damaged goods: He previously assumed control of both MobileMe and iAd after those services' somewhat lackluster launches.