Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has confirmed the exit of Greg Christie, who was a part of the original iPhone team. Before the confirmation, a report from 9to5Mac did suggest the departure of Christie, citing a feud with Apple’s design chief Jony Ive as a possible reason for the exit.

Jonathan Ive Apple

Confirming the news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) told the Financial Times, “Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple. 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.”

It all started with iOS 7

A report from the Wall Street Journal said Christie’s “human interface” team, which earlier used to report to the company’s software head Craig Federighi, will now come under Jonathan Ive.

Brian X. Chen, a reporter from the New York Times, tweeted that the announcement regarding Christie’s retirement was made weeks ago within the company.

There have been speculations that the friction between Ive and Christie surfaced after the former was entrusted to redesign Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS 7. It is believed that Christie and Ive had differences over the design of the OS, after which Ive bypassed Christie’s leadership.

Not good for Apple

With just months remaining for the significant updates to both iOS and OS X, the news of Christie’s departure might not go over well with investors. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS 8 would surely retain the overall design of iOS 7, but OS X 10.10 is expected to get a total makeover. Also, the departure might affect the ongoing Apple / Samsung high profile trial in San Jose, California, where last week, Christie was presented as a key witness for Apple in court.

Christie has been a part of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) since 1996, and played a lead role in the developing of the “Slide to Unlock” feature of iPhones and iPads. He is also credited for hundreds of other patents. Christie is also quite popular among App Store software creators as the veteran used to hold frequent design sessions and user-interface review meetings at the WWDC conferences.

Update: It appears that the departure of Christie has nothing to do with the feud with Jony Ive. A report from TechCrunch citing sources, says that the departure of Christie was “known internally for weeks, and was in the planning stages even earlier.” Christie will remain with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) even after stepping down from his current post, and would work on some special projects.