Man who lost Apple $12.9 billion

ONE of Apple's biggest stars has announced his shock resignation - immediately causing shares to plunge.

The tech giant has announced chief design officer Jony Ive will stand down from the company he helped revolutionise later this year in order to launch his own design company.

The news was a huge blow to Apple, causing shares to fall 1.5 per cent to $US197.44 - representing a massive $US9 billion ($A12.9 billion) drop in value.

Mr Ive has been instrumental in Apple's success after working on the design of the iconic iPhone, iMac and iPad.

He joined the firm in the early 1990s and forged a close bond with legendary co-founder Steve Jobs, who once referred to Mr Ive as his "spiritual partner".

Apple CEO Tim Cook paid tribute to his colleague in a statement published on the company's website this morning.

"Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple's revival cannot be overstated, from 1998's groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care," Mr Cook said.

However, he also revealed Mr Ive's relationship with Apple was far from over, as it would be one of Mr Ive's main clients.

"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," Mr Cook said.

"After so many years working closely together, I'm happy that our relationship continues to evolve, and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future."

After Mr Ive's departure, Evans Hankey, vice-president of industrial design, and Alan Dye, vice-president of human interface design, will report to Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer.

Mr Ive also reflected on the company's achievements during his time at the helm.

"After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer," he said.

"Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple's history.

"I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come."

According to the Financial Times, Mr Ive's new company will be named LoveFrom, which is derived from an anecdote involving Steve Jobs himself.

"Jobs said making something with love and care was a fundamental component and doing so meant you were expressing your gratitude to humanity, to the species," Mr Ive told the publication.

"I so identified with that motivation and was moved by his description."

He said LoveFrom would be focused on wearable technology and healthcare - both Apple priorities - as well as "personal passions" and also work for other clients.

Mr Ive received a knighthood at Buckingham Palace in 2012. He has led Apple's design teams since 1996 and took over as chief design officer in 2015.

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