Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has criticised a report which claimed his deteriorating relationship with the company's chief design officer prompted the latter to leave the company.
Sir Jonathan Ive – the British man who designed the iPhone, iPod and Mac – announced last week that he was leaving Apple after nearly three decades at the company, saying it was a "natural" time to go.
However a report in The Wall Street Journal suggested that Sir Jony had become "dispirited" at the company due to Mr Cook's lack of interest in product design.
Exclusive: In scathing email, Apple CEO Tim Cook tells me the @WSJ report about Jony Ives departure — and his frustration with Cooks alleged lack of interest in design — is “absurd.” Says reporting and conclusions "dont match with reality.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) July 1, 2019
But in a scathing email to NBC's Dylan Byers, Mr Cook dismissed the claims as "absurd" and stated "the conclusions [of the WSJ report] just don't match with reality".
"The design team is phenomenally talented," wrote the chief executive.
"As Jony has said, they're stronger than ever, and I have complete confidence that they will thrive under Jeff, Evans and Alan's leadership," he wrote of Sir Jony's successors.
"We know the truth and we know the incredible things they're capable of doing. The projects they're working on will blow you away."
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NBC's Dylan Byers reported that Mr Cook, who replaced Steve Jobs as Apple's chief executive after Jobs died, appeared compelled to publicly rebut claims the company was prioritising operations at the expense of design.
Announcing his departure from Apple, Sir Jony told the Financial Times: "While I will not be an employee, I will still be very involved – I hope for many, many years to come.
"This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change."
According to the FT, Sir Jony's new venture LoveFrom will launch fully in 2020 and he will continue to work on wearable technology and healthcare, which are among Apple's strategic priorities.
"There are products that we have been working on for a number of years," he said, of his ongoing work at Apple.
"I'm beyond excited that I get to continue working on those, and there are some new projects as well that I'll get to develop and contribute to."
Sir Jony was a close creative collaborator with co-founder Steve Jobs and his designs helped fuel Apple's rise to a $1trn company.
Mr Cook described Sir Jony's designs as "groundbreaking".