I can't believe the insane commentary and theories and complete lack of understanding so many are bringing to the table with the the news that Jony Ive has taken a new (newly created) position within Apple. The position? Chief Deign Officer. Sounds pretty logical to me. Of course that's not how the "interwebs" took it.
It's pretty simple. This is about the future. Perhaps not even of any predetermined time-frame. Just the future. The future of Apple. The future of design at Apple.
Steve Jobs had a plan. He had a plan for his successor and how things should happen. Did that plan go accordingly? Exactly as laid out? No, probably not. He was planning for the future of Apple though. Ensuring it was in good hands.
That's why this move doesn't mean anything. Not right now. All it says is that Apple and Tim Cook and Jony Ive are planning for the future. It says that those in the higher ranks of the company know that there will come a day when Ive is no longer around. They need to plan for it. Simple as that.
Instead of everyone freaking out, everyone should be happy. They're looking ahead. Not just a few feet in front of them, but into the distance. This is what Apple does. They look at where they want to go and what's coming, create a road-map and plan, then execute. Jony Ive's new position and responsibilities within Apple are no different. Relax.