Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive quits and shares plunge

Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, the brains behind Apple’s most popular products, is leaving the company. He’s forming his own business LoveFrom and his first client is Apple.

However, the news was greeted with dismay, causing Apple shares to fall 1.5 per cent to US$197.44 — seeing a massive US$9 billion (A$12.9 billion) drop in value.

Ive started at Apple in 1992 and designed the iconic looks of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook and portions of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. He became Chief Design Officer in 1996.

“Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement.

“Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built. After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”

Design team leaders Evans Hankey, Vice President of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, Vice President of Human Interface Design, will now report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO.

Both Dye and Hankey have played crucial roles in Apple’s design team over the years. They were among executives who took over day-to-day management of the team when Ive stepped away to focus on the company’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California. Williams has led the development of Apple Watch since its inception and will spend more time working with the design team in their studio.

“After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” said Ive.

“The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

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