9:17 AM, Jun 28, 2019 — Apple’s (AAPL) chief design officer, Jony Ive, is set to leave the consumer-technology giant later this year to form an independent firm, while continuing to work on “a range of projects” with his former employer.
Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement late Thursday that Ive played a role that “cannot be overstated” in the revival of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, including the 1998 iMac personal computer and the iPhone.
“Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built,” Cook said.
Ive’s departure is a “sentimental negative,” said Nomura Instinet analysts including Jeffrey Kvaal in a note Friday. Shares in Apple were slightly weaker in pre-market trading.
“He represents a particularly strong connection to Apple iconic heritage given his intimate role in developing many of Apple seminal products and of course his tight bond with Mr. Jobs himself,” Kvaal said, referring to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. “His departure, therefore, should prompt much nostalgia, and may lead some investors to question Apple’s ability to retain leading industrial design.”
Still, it’s a “sensible time” for Ive to step back, Kvaal said, as the smartphone market slows and Apple pivots toward services. And Ive “indicated he expects to be working with Apple for many years to come,” the analyst said.
“Mr. Ive’s legacy and Apple’s design engine are both secure,” he said, maintaining a neutral rating on Apple and a $175 price target. Apple also said Evans Hankey, vice president of industrial design, and Alan Dye, VP of human interface design, will report to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.
“The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators,” Ive said in Apple’s statement. “I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
Companies: Apple Inc.
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