Longtime Apple employee Greg Christie, who told the origin story of the iPhone in Apple's US court case against Samsung just last week and heads up its Human Interface team, is leaving the company. The news, which was reported earlier by 9to5Mac, has now been confirmed by The Financial Times. According to 9to5Mac, the departure stems from a "falling out" with Apple design chief Jony Ive, though in statement, Apple says the move was part of a planned retirement.
"Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple," the company said in a statement. "He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class Human Interface team which has worked closely with Jony for many years."
Christie became an unusually public face of Apple
Christie became an unusually public face of Apple over the past month leading up to the trial between Apple and Samsung. Christie did interviews with both The Wall Street Journal and NPR discussing the creation of the iPhone, rare access doled out by the company, which usually only trots out members of its executive team around product launches. Samsung took offense to the move in pre-trial proceedings, calling it planned and part of Apple's pretrial strategy.
In testimony last week, Christie described the very beginnings of the iPhone and iPad programs at Apple, including being plucked by Apple's former iOS chief Scott Forstall, and having to work at the very highest levels of secrecy with a tight-knit team. The project "was the focus of an awful lot of people for a very long time," Christie recalled. Forstall had offered a similar narrative during his time on the stand in the 2012 trial, comparing the iPhone's creation to the story of Fight Club. Forstall was fired by Apple CEO Tim Cook just three months after that testimony as part of a management shuffle that also saw the removal of retail chief John Browett.
Update April 9th, 7:48PM: The Wall Street Journal reports that Christie's team will now report directly to Ive instead of Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering.