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: http://i.imgur.com/iy0St2N.jpg

  • 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.

    • http://www.alexheath.me Alex Heath

      Good job.

      • AndroidSucks

        LOL!!!

  • 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.

  • DarthDisney

    Great at design doesn’t mean great at software implementation. Jobs trusted this guy for a reason, and it sounds like Ive isn’t really good at trusting people to do their jobs on their terms.

    • PMB01

      Which is why he’s designing the software and will let the engineers actually bring it to life. Everybody has to do their own job and Jony knows that. That’s not to say that he won’t be scrutinizing everything and making sure it works as intended.

  • Merckel

    John Gruber, who has inside contacts at Apple, largely disputes the characterization that Christie was forced out.

  • http://josedmorales.net/ Joe

    Yep, same path as expected since 2011…

  • GadgetCanada1

    Comparing Jony to Steve really doesn’t matter. Jony has done enough already in his career to be considered a giant in the technology world. Apple is in good hands.

  • Adrayven

    Funny how multiple other sources have disproved the conflict and show that it’s simply he is retiring .. So it’s not just Apple announcing it. ha!

    I’m betting you got some good clicks from this though! Yay for drama, unfounded rumors; guess 9to5 should fact check first… oh wait.. that would kill the ad revenue! Hell with TRUTH!

  • TP

    Jony is slowly becoming King Joffrey

  • Bob

    Two things I see happening here.

    First Ive is consolidating power, which means he is excluding fresh ideas. This is most certainty the very mistake all failed dictators have made in the past.

    Second, all future failures are now ive’s alone.

    I fear Ive will have a massive stumble, and no one will support his fall. That is the fate if one who removes all opposition and creates an atmosphere of superiority about themselves.

    I won’t touch ios7 because I cannot stand the user interface design. It isn’t fresh and it isn’t enjoyable for me to use.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and 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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