Dean Hovey on Apple as a Client

Source: Interview with Dean Hovey, 22 June 2000.

Pang: Can you talk a little bit about what Apple was like as a client?

Hovey: Well, Jerry Manock is who introduced us to Apple. He went through the product design program, and I don't remember how it happened, but he was the one who did the Apple II. As soon as that started to grow, he looked outbound to see who could help him. We were literally four or five blocks away: he was on University, and we were on Bryant. He asked if we could help on the next product that was coming out, which was the Apple III.

See also Jim Yurchenco and Rickson Sun on Apple as a client and Steve Jobs' involvement in the mouse project; David Kelley on Jobs' involvement; and Jim Sachs on Jobs' vision for the mouse.

Steve Jobs and Product Design

I suppose the great part about Apple was Steve Jobs appreciated product design early on. I'm not sure that he could name it at the time, but he's brilliant at figuring out what a computer ought to be "for the rest of us." He had an attraction to that aspect of it. While we were not the best stylists from an industrial design perspective, we had a more holistic view. So the head of the organization appreciated what good product design can do, and you still see that.

Icon designer Susan Kare also talks about working with Steve Jobs, and his design sense.

Second, they were a rapidly-growing company, expanding faster than we could. So while there were always new people coming in there, and because they appreciated product design they got product designers more and more in there, it never felt like they were trying to push us out; there were always more things to do. So theirs was always an open door.

Third, as I recall, we were there when Apple was in Bandley, and when they were doing Apple III they were opening up the new buildings; so we would go over and do our presentations when it was still pretty small.

So there was generally an appreciation for our work, there were very few constraints-- they kept things in budget, but they were never hammering on us or saying no, and if you made a good proposal to move something forward they seemed to go along with it. There were few companies at that stage that were reacting like that: there were some people trying to get into the PC business, and we did a number of things with them, but the difference in success also changed how the relationship was. Apple was always successful, and we could always participate. And because we interacted with Jobs, there were more opportunities to have a relationship there. In fact, I think David Kelley still keeps in touch with him.

Pang: Once Hovey-Kelley was working on a project for Apple, did Steve Jobs continue to be involved?

Hovey: He was most active in the conceptualization, to the point where we'd done some foam core models and some sketches. It usually takes some time to get to the next stage, where you do a mockup of what a product will actually look like; and at that stage you'd see him again. Then you didn't really see him until the next project: it was intense at the beginning, and tricked out over time. And we learned to work with Steve [Hovey smiles], in terms of how you get ideas across.

David Kelley in his interview talks about his relationship with Steve Jobs, and how working with Apple has affected IDEO's reputation.


Document created on 10 July 2000;