Apple software design chief and key iPhone contributor to leave after reported fallout with Jony Ive

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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.

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