Jony’s Way Or The Highway: Key Software Exec Greg Christie Leaving Apple

Jony Ive

A key executive within Apple is reportedly leaving the company due to a fallout with design chief Jony Ive. The result is that Ive will directly control even more of how Apple designs its software.

Greg Christie has been getting a lot of attention lately in the Apple vs. Samsung patent trial for his role as an engineer for the original iPhone. And that’s not all he’s known for; the guy has also patented nearly a hundred ideas for Apple, including the iconic “Slide to unlock” patent Apple is using as evidence in the ongoing case with Samsung.

Christie has been heading up Apple’s software design under Craig Federighi. But according to a new report, Ive is basically pushing Christie out because the two haven’t been getting along.

9to5Mac reports that “friction” between Christie and Ive “will result in Christie soon leaving the company, with all software designers now working directly under Ive with the rest of his industrial design team instead of within Federighi’s engineering group.”

Apparently Christie disagreed with Ive on the radical design of iOS 7, and there’s rumored to be a new version OS X in the works that goes in a different design direction as well.

When Ive became head of all design at Apple after the Scott Forstall shakeup, he quickly started getting rid of the iOS 6ish design language in favor of cleaner, flatter interfaces. It’s not clear how Christie disagreed with Ive specifically, but the two were at odds enough for Christie to get the boot.

Christie joined Apple in 1996, and the first product he worked on was the Newton. He worked closely with Forstall and Steve Jobs on the Mac and original iPhone. His influence on the design of OS X and iOS “cannot be overstated,” according to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber.

He has been a key VP at Apple with plenty of trade secrets. He’ll likely be paid handsomely by Apple to keep quiet, just like Forstall.

Once Christie is out of the picture completely, Ive will directly oversee not only all hardware, but all software design.

Update: In a carefully worded statement, Apple has confirmed Christie’s departure:

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.

  • WisdomSeed

    Bad business.

  • Anthony Velazquez

    In Jony we Trust!

  • Bob Level

    Jony is no Jobs. Hope he realizes this before it’s too late and he has alienated everyone on his teams.

    • monstermasten

      And he obviously has no taste. Steve Jobs had good TASTE.

      Releasing iOS 7 the was it was released is nothing else than a scandal for Apple. I’ll the same if the iPhone 6 is even bigger than the 5S as well.

      Jobs was the only boss in the IT industry that wasn’t a grey boring nerd. He understood consumer mentality. Ive lacks this. Which is why Apple is now becoming just another tech company, fading in with the Samsung bullshit.

      I’ve doesn’t know software. And I dare to say he doesn’t know UI. Making icons completely flat, and WHITE at the same time. The whole springboard looks like a complete mess. Luckily I’ve jailbroken and made my own icons:

  • Aannddyy

    Just by reading this article headline and using my own wild imagination, I now know exactly what’s going on and am now ready to make a smart ass comment.

    • Alex Heath

      Good job.

      • AndroidSucks


  • JC

    Gotta be careful with all that power. It can come tumbling down in a blink of an eye.

  • Kr00

    I have no problem with Jony taking the reigns of design. He has worked more closely to Steve Jobs on the product design and the direction of Apple than anyone else. He was hand picked by Jobs to protect his legacy. Christie doesn’t have a design brain like Ive. He also supported keeping the Skeuomorphic look in iOS and OSX. That should say it all really. Christie also worked on the Newton. Not something to be proud of.

  • AndroidSucks

    I am a fan of Jony’s work. Him leading both hardware and software would give the two areas a more consistent look. I trust that Jony will deliver.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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