Longtime Apple human interface director Greg Christie, who has been with the iPhone maker since 1996, is said to be planning an exit after his relationship with recently-elevated senior vice president of design Jony Ive allegedly turned sour. Christie is currently responsible for software design across each of Apple’s product lines and was a key member of the group that created the first-gen iPhone. He reports to Apple software chief Craig Federighi, rather than nominal design leader Jony Ive, who has until now chosen to eschew day-to-day management of the software design team in favor of providing high-level direction.
This is actually set to change with Christie leaving the company and Ive assuming full control of the software group. Word of Christie’s departure comes from the folks over at 9to5Mac, who are blaming tension between Christie and Ive for the split. The two began working more closely in 2012 after former iOS software head Scott Forstall was pushed out of the company. Notably, Forstall is said to have had a rocky relationship with Ive, contributing to a downfall that was primarily caused by the disastrous rollout of Apple’s in-house mapping initiative.
At the time, sources said that Ive and Christie had “very different styles.” Christie is known to speak frankly, though design sessions were said to be “pleasant and cordial,” unlike meetings in which Ive and Forstall refused to speak without an intermediary. Christie’s departure comes just weeks after Apple appeared to begin the process of elevating his profile outside the company. Christie gave an interview in late March, detailing the development of the original iPhone, in which he said that the handset’s software vision came together in just two weeks following an ultimatum from late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
A recent statement from the Financial Times confirms Christie’s departure but fails to elaborate on the details. The following was mentioned regarding the matter:
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.