Along with Steve Jobs, Mr Ive is credited with transforming the fortunes of Apple, first with the creation of the brightly-coloured, transparent iMac and then with the first versions of the iPhone.
But now Mr Ive no longer has an official relationship with the company, after they agreed to stop working together, the New York Times reported.
Mr Ive had already begun to leave Apple in 2019, when he left to start his own design firm called LoveFrom. But the two companies signed a contract thought to be worth more than $100 million, which would see Mr Ive continue to contribute design work from afar.
Apple was Mr Ive’s biggest client and he was not allowed to contribute towards work that Apple deemed competitive.
Now the two have agreed not to renew the contract, according to the New York Times. It said that Apple executives had questioned the amount that it was paying to LoveFrom, particularly when many of its staff were leaving to join the firm, and Mr Ive desired the freedom to take on clients without Apple’s approval.
Both companies have declined to publicly comment.
Mr Ive is widely seen as a major part of the history of Apple, having designed many of the products that turned it from a failing computer firm into the sometime world’s biggest company. Mr Jobs said he was the most powerful person at Apple besides himself.
But his departure from Apple came amid criticism from those inside and outside the company. Reports suggested that Mr Ive had become frustrated with Apple’s direction, and critics argued that Apple’s products had become overly slimline and focused on form over function.
Since Mr Ive left the company in 2019, many of its products have become bigger and moved away from the design language so closely associated with him. Apple’s latest MacBooks have actually become larger than their predecessors, for instance, and the ports that were removed during Mr Ive’s later tenure have been restored.
Apple’s design work will continue to be overseen by Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, and hardware design will be led by Evans Hankey and software by Alan Dye. That trio have been at the head of Apple’s design work since Mr Ive’s departure was announced.
Apple’s product marketing team, which is led by Greg Joswiak, has also taken a key role in the choices that go into new products, the NYT reported.