Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday disputed a report that outgoing chief design officer Jony Ive had grown frustrated with the company’s leadership and disengaged from his role in the months before the announcement of his departure.
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In a lengthy article on the circumstances behind Ive’s departure, the Wall Street Journal reported that the former Steve Jobs associate had grown “distant” from Apple’s leadership, often skipping design team meetings. The report, which cited sources within the company, said Ive disapproved of Apple’s recent focus on software and its services segment rather than hardware, such as the iPhone, that had long driven its profitability.
“The story is absurd. A lot of the reporting, and certainly the conclusions just don’t match with reality,” Cook said in an email to NBC News. “At a base level, it shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works. It distorts relationships, decisions and events to the point that we just don’t recognize the company it claims to describe."
Apple declined further comment.
Apple announced last month that Ive would exit the company later this year after nearly three decades of service. Ive is set to launch his own design firm, LoveFrom, which will count Apple as one of its primary clients at launch.
At the time, Cook said Apple would work with Ive “long into the future.” Ive’s responsibilities will be split between vice presidents Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, who will report to COO Jeff Williams.
A fixture at Apple who helped to shape the look of the iPhone, the MacBook and many other products, Ive worked closely with Apple founder Steve Jobs up until his death.
“The design team is phenomenally talented. As Jony has said, they’re stronger than ever, and I have complete confident that they will thrive under Jeff, Evans and Alan’s leadership,” Cook added. “We know the truth and we know the incredible things they’re capable of doing. The projects they’re working on will blow you away.”