Key Designer Greg Christie Leaving Apple
Forget being responsible for the look of an operating system that helped put your company back on the map. Never mind that your name appears on some of the most valuable patents in the tech world, or that you were trusted to take the witness stand for your company.
If you take on Jony Ive, you’re going to lose.
That’s the story of Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie.
Christie will leave the company leaving Senior Vice President and Apple’s famed designer, Jony Ive, with control of Apple’s hardware and software design.
In 2012, Ive became part of the software design group and was largely credited with the new, flatter look of iOS7—an OS that that has attracted as many lovers as it has haters.
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The problem reportedly began as iOS7 was being imagined. Ive gave the order for the Human Interface Team to take the upcoming OS in a new aesthetic direction. Christie and Ive clashed over the new direction, prompting Ive to circumvent Christie for design control.
People come and go from tech companies so what makes this so significant?
First, he’s one of the few that has worked under Apple’s most senior executives for nearly two decades. He also spearheaded the transition from the Mac OS to OS X and its Aqua interface in the early 2000s.
Christie’s name is on some of Apple’s most key patents—most notably the “slide to unlock” patent. He’s listed as inventor on nearly 100 Apple patents and has 31 pending with the patent office.
"Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple," an Apple spokesman said. "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."
Just last week, Christie testified in the latest Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit and made himself available to the Wall Street Journal for an article about the creation of the iPhone.
Christie joined Apple in 1996 to work on the Newton, the company’s failed personal digital assistant that had a touch screen and stylus.
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker was long Apple.
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