Apple’s lead designer Sir Jonathan Ive accuses Xiaomi and other copycat rivals of “theft”

Saqib Shah
October 10, 2014

“I don’t see it as flattery, I see it as theft,” were the strong words Apple’s lead designer Sir Jonathan Ive said of the firm’s copycat rivals.

Speaking at a Vanity Fair event in San Francisco, Ive’s strong remarks were in response to an attendee’s question about Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi.

Ive later elaborated on his statement to include all the tech firms that copy Apple’s influential aesthetic.

This isn’t the first time Xiami has come under fire for aping the Cupertino-based tech giant.

When prompted on the allegations, the Chinese manufacturer’s head honcho Hugo Barra has stated that his firm sees Apple as an “inspiration”.

This hasn’t abated Xiaomi’s critics and this year alone the manufacturer has been accused of copying the iPhone upon the release of its own flagship device; the Mi4. More recently, it came under fire for releasing its own health tracking hardware and accompanying app. It didn’t help that Xiaomi chose to brand the new device iHealth.

Xiaomi Mi4

Xiaomi Mi4

The generally reclusive and media-shy Sir Jonathan Ive has been a lot more forthcoming about his views since the release of the iPhone 6. He was at the Vanity Fair event to discuss his career.

When asked about his sentiment toward copycat rivals, he stated: I have to be honest the last thing I think is, ‘Oh, that is flattering.’

“All those weekends I could’ve been home with my family – I think it’s theft and lazy. I don’t think it’s OK at all.”

Although no one is doubting Apple’s position as an influential tech pioneer, the company’s products have always been an evolution of already existing devices. As analysts have pointed out, the MP3 player existed before the iPod came along and so did smartphones and PDAs before the arrival of the iPhone. Therefore, Sir Ive’s comments can offer little more than a defence of Apple’s position as a design innovator. Chances are the copycats will keep on coming.

About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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