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Summary:

A clash between Apple’s human interface VP Greg Christie and design chief Jony Ive has come to head and is leading to Christie’s departure from the company, 9to5Mac reports.

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photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Apple’s vaunted design group appears to be going through some changes. According to a report from 9to5Mac, friction between head of software design Greg Christie and design SVP Jony Ive (pictured) has resulted in a shakeup that led to Ive taking control over all design activity related to software and hardware and will likely see Christie leave the company.

Citing unnamed sources, 9to5Mac stated the two began clashing after Ive took over human interface design responsibilities in 2012 in a move that also saw the departure of former Apple software leader Scott Forstall. When Ive’s team took on the redesign of the iPhone’s interface to create iOS 7’s new look he came into conflict with Christie, who wanted to go in a different design direction, the report said. That clash led to Ive wresting to control of the project during the new OS’s development, according to 9to5Mac.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed to the Financial Times (registration required) that Christie is leaving the company, though it played down any suggestion of conflict between Christie and Ives. The statement Apple gave to FT said: “Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple. He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class Human Interface team which has worked closely with Jony for many years.”

Now everything design-related at Apple will fall under Ive, who is a legend within the design community for his role in developing the products that have Apple still raking in boatloads of cash. But Christie was a key contributor. According to a recent (and rare) interview granted to The Wall Street Journal, Christie — who first came to Apple in 1996 to work on the Newton, the report said — was deeply involved with the creation of iOS and the iPhone.

This post was updated at 3 PM PT with additional information from the Financial Times.

  1. Software UI design is a very different discipline than hardware industrial design. If there is anything iOS 7 showed, with its amateurish graphics, truncated layouts that are often off by more than a few pixels, it’s that Ive is a hack without a perfectionist tastemaker like Steve Jobs to keep him on a tight leash.

    1. Geez. God help us poor users. The whole “flat” obsession is SO boring…uh, it’s just flat. Please, Ive, go back to hardware, and give real designers a chance… To give us something other than boring, common, ordinary. If this is all you can think up to inject something pseudo new into your legacy, then please just quit?

  2. Jerrod Crummel Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Meh. I’m more concerned about the Benzine you use in your products that could give us as consumers cancer. If that’s not bad enough think about all your factory workers suffering and dieing from exposure to Benzine(a product who’s use is outlawed in most all western countries) You should be a little more concerned with not being human garbage and less concerned about a couple of dollars. Your willingly killing people and dooming them to die a very slow and agonizing death and don’t even bat an eye. I’d never buy one of your computer because I hate the OS and how NOTHING is compatible, but now, I will definitely sell this iPhone I just bought. Or burn it. So yeah, good luck with that whole being one of the sources of the worlds worst problems. Douche bags.

    1. You foam at the mouth over how Apple is ‘killing people’, then you casually mention an iPhone that you “just bought”. Zero credibility.

  3. Christie is staying on until end of this year. Doesn’t sound like a departure under conflict to me. If so, wouldn’t he be gone fast?

    1. Maybe he’s waiting for the Autumn launch to see how things pan out?

  4. Like some other people, I find iOS 7 to be visually boring and restrictive. Android isn’t much better, unfortunately, and Windows 8 on any platform is dull. Probably only a matter of time before OSX turns dreary too, as the Cult of Ive completes its takeover. Just look at how Omnifocus 2 was redesigned, vs. version 1. It’s iOS on OSX. Boring.

    My next computer could be a Mac, but it won’t be. I’m just waiting for the update to Windows 8, where they bring back the Start button and desktop and allow PC users to dispense with the cluttered Metro look.

    The one area where Ives may do well is with smartwatches and similar devices, where the interface has to be small and simple. Maybe Apple will do well there.

    1. I really like iOS 7. The transition and icon management is a significant achievement. To me it makes Android feel second-rate (and I’m not an Android-hater …I make my living in the Android world).

  5. If he’s leaving, I hope Christie was responsible for that POS podcast app design. It boggles the mind that Apple hasn’t fixed basic bugs like syncing. There are hundreds of complaints in the support forums and Apple ignores them and does nothing. Garbage software.

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