SAN FRANCISCO — When Jony Ive, Apple’s influential design leader, left the company in 2019, Tim Cook, the chief executive, assured customers that Mr. Ive, the man who gave the world candy-colored computers, would work exclusively with the company for many years.
mr. Ive and Apple have agreed to: stop working togetheraccording to two people with knowledge of their contractual agreement, ending a three-decade run in which the designer helped define every rounded corner of an iPhone and led the development of his only new product category in recent years, the Apple Watch. .
When Mr. Ive left Apple in 2019 to start his own design firm LoveFrom, the iPhone maker signed a multi-year contract with him worth more than $100 million. That made Apple its company’s most important customer, people with knowledge of the agreement said.
In recent weeks, when the contract was about to be renewed, the parties agreed not to renew it. Some Apple executives had wondered how much the company paid Mr. Ive and had become frustrated after some of its designers left to join Mr. Ive’s company. And Mr. Ive wanted the freedom to hire customers without Apple’s approval, these people said.
Through a spokeswoman, Mr Ive, 55, declined to comment. Apple also declined to comment.
Before leaving Apple in June 2019, Mr. Ive become disillusioned when Mr. Cook made the ever-growing company focus more on operations than major design leaps, according to more than a dozen people who worked closely with Mr. Ive worked together. The designer moved into a part-time position when Mr. Cook focused on selling more software and services.
In July 2019, Mr Cook called the coverage of Mr Ive’s frustrations at Apple “absurd” and said it “disrupts relationships, decisions and events”.
Mr. Cook’s strategy has been validated by investors who have added $1.5 trillion to Apple’s market valuation in just over two years, although some analysts have chided it for the silence in introducing revolutionary devices.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, will continue to oversee the company’s design teams, with industrial design led by Evans Hankey and software design led by Alan Dye. Apple’s product marketing team, led by Greg Joswiak, the senior vice president of marketing, has taken a central role in product choices.
Mr. Ive’s company, LoveFrom, will continue to work with clients including Airbnb and Ferrari, and Mr. Ive will continue his personal work with Sustainable Markets Initiative, Prince Charles’ nonprofit organization that focuses on climate change.
Born and raised outside of London, Mr. Ive joined Apple in 1992 and grew up to lead the design team. The company was on the brink of bankruptcy in 1997 when Steve Jobs left Mr. Ive been in charge of: designing the iMac† The spherical, translucent computer became the fastest-selling desktop in history at the time. It restored Apple’s business and made Mr. Ive the closest associate to Mr. Jobs.
“He’s not just any designer,” Mr. Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson. “He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me.”
Mr. Ive also developed the White iPod earbudswho inspired Apple’s dancing silhouette advertising campaign, and supported the creation of the iPhone’s touchscreen technology.
After the death of Mr. Jobs from cancer in 2011, Mr. Ive been developing the Apple Watch. The product fell short of initial sales expectations, but it created a wearables company that generated $38 billion in revenue last year.
In 2015, Mr. ive mr. Cook on leaving Apple, according to four people familiar with the conversation. The designer was exhausted from building the consensus needed to produce the Apple Watch, these folks said. mr. Cook agreed to let Mr. Ive been working part time.
Four years later, Mr. ive and mr. Cook suggested that the designer would leave Apple to create LoveFrom. In a statement at the time, Mr Cook said: “I am pleased that our relationship continues to develop and I look forward to working with Jony for a long time to come.”