CUPERTINO, United States — Paul Deneve, the former chief executive officer of luxury fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, has left his role as vice president of special projects at Apple, according to a source close to the company. A representative for Apple confirmed the news.
Deneve’s exact responsibilities at the company were never clear, but it is understood he focused on Apple Watch throughout his four-year tenure. The company clarified last year that Deneve was no longer reporting directly to chief executive Tim Cook, but instead to chief operating officer Jeff Williams, who oversees the development of Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch was initially marketed as a tech-savvy fashion accessory and came with a wide range of casing and strap options, which later included a strap made in partnership with Hermès. But the wearable tech industry overall has failed to deliver products akin to covetable jewellery and traditional watches that convey personal style and signal social status. As Apple Watch's market share and sales have grown, it’s become clear that most consumers are not buying the device because of the way it looks, but because of its fitness tracking, notifications and time-telling functionality.
Apple shipped 3.9 million devices in the third quarter of 2017, according to research firm Canalys, up from 2.8 million in the same period in the previous year. The volume represents 23 percent of the market. It is unclear how many of those watches were sold, however, or their abandonment rates. In its latest fiscal quarter, Apple’s “other products” category — which includes Apple Watch, Apple TV, Beats electronics, iPods and accessories — generated $3.23 billion in sales, up 36 percent from the same period in 2016. Cook told analysts that Apple’s wearable technology business was up 75 percent year over year.
Deneve first worked at Apple from 1990 to 1997 as a sales and marketing manager. He later held senior leadership roles at Courreges, Nina Ricci and Lanvin. Prior to re-joining Apple in 2013, he led the revitalisation of Yves Saint Laurent, appointing Hedi Slimane creative director in 2012.