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Jony Ive, the major designer behind the iPhone, is leaving Apple later this year to start his own company.
Ive's new firm will also focus on design and count Apple as among its primary clients, the company announced on Thursday. "Apple will continue to benefit from Jony's talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects," company CEO Tim Cook said.
Ive has been at the company for almost three decades and he currently serves as Apple's chief design officer. "While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved —I hope for many, many years to come," Ive told The Financial Times in an interview. "This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change."
Ive original joined Apple in 1992, and since then's he had a hand in designing the hardware to the company's major products, including the iPod, the iPad and MacBooks, in addition to the iPhone, which have all become known for using aluminum and glass casing. Following former Apple CEO Steve Jobs' death in 2011, he also began managing the design to the software on Apple products.
Apple isn't naming a successor to Ive. Instead, the company's two design leaders in charge of industrial and software design will report to Apple's chief operating officer, Jeff Williams. "Williams has led the development of Apple Watch since its inception and will spend more of his time working with the design team in their studio," the company said.
As for Ive, his new company will be called LoveFrom and be based out of California. Expect it to launch next year. What his new firm will exactly work on wasn't made clear in Ive's interview with The Financial Times. But he plans to continue designing wearable technology and healthcare-related products, in addition to a variety of unspecific projects.