One of the most influential executives in the history of Silicon Valley, Jony Ive is leaving Apple. Mr. Ive will depart this year to start his own design company, Apple said on Thursday. Through his new firm, LoveFrom, Mr. Ive will continue to work on a wide range of Apple products, the company said. He has worked at Apple for nearly three decades, was responsible for the look and feel of many iconic Apple products, including the iPhone and the iMac. He also helped design Apple’s new headquarters, a futuristic, flying-saucerlike glass building that has become one of the most distinctive structures in Silicon Valley. Born and raised outside London, Mr. Ive joined Apple in 1992, when the company was nearing its lowest. One of his first projects was the Apple Newton, an early hand-held computer that, while innovative, was bulky and too expensive to find a mainstream audience. It was considered a bust. But Mr. Ive became a key player in the company’s revival after its founder Steve Jobs returned in 1997.
Mr. Jobs and Mr. Ive often met for lunch, and at the end of each day, the chief executive would visit Mr. Ive’s Apple design studio, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography “Steve Jobs.”
Apple’s design team will now be led by Evans Hankey, an industrial designer at the company, and Alan Dye, previously a creative director at Apple. They will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, who oversaw the creation of the Apple Watch. Apple’s share price was down more than 1 percent in after-hours trading after Mr. Ive’s departure was announced. Apple has struggled in recent quarters with slumping iPhone sales and a significant drop in revenue across the China region. In April, when Apple last reported its quarterly financial results, profit dropped 16.4 from the same quarter a year earlier, and iPhone sales dropped 17.3 percent.
Revenue from online services, including Apple’s App Store, was on the rise. But the hardware business that defined Apple — and the career of Mr. Ive — has slowed. The Apple Watch has been a modest success, but it has not captured the market or the popular imagination in the way that the iPhone and the iMac did when they were released.