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Apple Design Legend Jony Ive Is Departing

Ive, a central figure in Apple product design for decades, will launch a design firm that will have Apple as a client.

A pivotal figure in Apple history is leaving the company, with the announcement that chief design officer Jony Ive will depart to launch an independent design firm.

Ive is credited with playing a central role in designing the iPhone, among other Apple products.

[Related: Apple's 8 Newest Products: What You Should Know]

Ive has headed Apple's design team since 1996, and was a close collaborator with Steve Jobs after the return of Jobs to Apple in 1997.

The launch of the game-changing iMac desktop in 1998 was an early success of the collaboration between Ive and Jobs. Ive's involvement in the design of the iPod, and later the iPhone, are considered among his other biggest achievements.

Ive will depart Apple to launch a design company called LoveFrom. The company "will count Apple among its primary clients," Apple said in a news release.

"Ive in his new company will continue to work closely and on a range of projects with Apple," the company said in the release.

Apple CEO Tim Cook called Ive "a singular figure in the design world" whose "role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated."

"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 in the news release.

Apple chief operations officer Jeff Williams will "spend more of his time working with the design team in their studio," the company said, while Apple vice president of industrial design Evans Hankey and vice president of human interface design Alan Dye will report to Williams.

In the release, Ive said that "the team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators."

The departure “is a major changing of the guard within Cupertino,” wrote Daniel Ives, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities, in a note to investors on Thursday. “Ive is leaving a hole in the company and is clearly irreplaceable as he has been one of the most important figures at Apple throughout the past few decades; from his iMac vision to the stunning iPhone launch and transformation his fingerprints are deeply woven within Apple's core DNA. The major question now going forward is around future product innovation with one of the key visionaries of the Apple brand gone.”

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