Earlier it was reported Apple’s ‘human interface’ VP Greg Christie was leaving the company after allegedly clashing with Jony Ive, first reported by 9to5Mac. Apple later confirmed Christie’s departure to the Wall Street Journal:
“Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple,” said a company spokesman. “He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class human interface team which has worked closely with [Jonathan] for many years.”
But there’s new tidbits from sources now saying Christie wasn’t forced out due to clashes with Ive, but rather the latter is taking a more authority over design and taking on a larger role. John Gruber from Daring Fireball:
What I’ve heard, from several sources: Christie and Ive may not see eye to eye on UI design style, but his departure isn’t nearly as contentious as Mark Gurman’s report at 9to5Mac implies. The basic gist I’ve heard is that Christie is a guy who’s been in a high-pressure, high-profile job for 18 years, most of it reporting to Steve Jobs. He’s made a lot of money and is ready to enjoy it. That’s largely in line with the Apple PR line given to the WSJ, but I heard all of this from ground-level Cupertino-area pixel-pushing designers.
Interestingly, Christie’s retirement was announced internally a few weeks ago — yet it didn’t leak outside the company until today. Also interesting (and backing up the company line that his departure is not contentious): he’s staying at the company until later this year — and from what I’ve heard, it’s more like “end of the year”. If it’s ugly, why hang around?
Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch:
According to multiple sources inside and outside the company, Christie’s exit has been known for weeks — and planned for even longer. His stepping aside has been designed to allow for a transition of leadership inside the Human Interface group. Christie worked under Forstall for many years, and there may have been plenty of times he didn’t agree with Ive, but there has reportedly been a distinct lack of drama in this transition.
If there was any ill-will between Christie and Ive, it doesn’t appear to have taken the form of any open conflict and a flare-up of friction was apparently not behind this exit. We hear Christie will stay at Apple a bit longer working on “special projects,” in a similar manner to former SVP of Technology Bob Mansfield, until he exits. From what we understand, Christie was recently moved into a role with no direct reports, which is often the harbinger of retirement at Apple.
Greg Christie played a crucial role in the birth of the original iPhone and last month shared details of how the process went down with then CEO Steve Jobs.
Apple is a secretive company but when it comes to setting the record straight, they sure know how to do it.