Apple exec departure leads to major iPhone, Apple Watch reshuffle

Enlarge / The iPhone 15 Pro.

Samuel Axon

According to a report in Bloomberg, Tang Tan, vice president of Product Design, is leaving Apple, and his departure heralds a shuffle of executives heading up some of the company’s most important products.

Sometimes, you might wonder just how much a specific executive influences the grand scheme of things, but the report claims that people within Apple see Tan’s departure as “a blow,” clarifying that he “made critical decisions about Apple’s most important products.” His team reportedly had “tight control” over the look and functionality of those products.

Tan oversaw major aspects of iPhone and Apple Watch design, and he was the executive overseeing accessories and AirPods, as well. He reported to John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, who is likely a more widely known name.

Richard Dinh, “Tan’s top lieutenant and head of iPhone product design,” will report directly to Ternus and take on some of Tan’s duties, while Kate Bergeron, previously involved in Mac hardware engineering, will take on the Apple Watch.

Apple has seen several executive departures from its product design and engineering groups recently, so many aspects of upcoming iPhones and other products will be designed with new eyes and perhaps new sensibilities, though what that might lead to remains to be seen.

Apple recently shifted the iPhone from the company’s proprietary Lightning port to a more standard USB-C, and it changed the materials for its Pro line of phones. Despite tweaks like that, the iPhone’s design and functionality has not changed significantly in the past five or so years.

The iPhone 16 line in 2024 is expected to shake things up a little more, at least regarding the phone’s look and feel. Rumors have suggested that the new phones may have larger screens (and bigger chassis overall) and perhaps haptic buttons instead of the current physical buttons. Other changes could be in store, and Apple’s plans are likely not yet finalized.

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