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Ive, who had helped design some of Apple's most memorable products, from the iPod to the Apple Watch, had been checked out of daily operations for a long time, according to the Journal. Ive grew disappointed by the more operational focus of top leadership under CEO Tim Cook, people who worked on Apple's design team told the Journal.
The Journal story paints a picture that Ive was largely checked out from his duties at Apple, skipping design meetings and spending time at his homes in San Francisco, Hawaii and the U.K.
In an email provided to NBC News reporter Dylan Byers on Monday, Cook said the Journal story was "absurd."
"At a base level, it shows a lack of understanding about how the design team works and how Apple works," Cook wrote in the note.
Ive had a close relationship with Cook's predecessor, Steve Jobs, with whom he often ate and discussed ideas, the Journal reported. Cook, who comes from an engineering background, aimed to keep Ive content with a lofty title and large salary, the Journal reported, but Ive continued to keep his distance from the office.
After the release of the Apple Watch in 2015, Ive told Cook he wanted to lessen his daily management responsibilities, according to the report, telling several people he wanted time to think but did not want to leave. When Cook announced his new title of chief design officer in 2015, the role came with more remote work, which the design team found disappointing, according to the Journal.
Ive agreed to pick up his day-to-day responsibilities again in 2017 after a meeting with Cook, the Journal reported, but he eventually became absent from the office again, spending time in the U.K. with his sick father. As Ive has remained distant, four longtime members of his team left in the past year, according to the report.
Ive announced his departure in an interview with the Financial Times published Thursday, saying he will start a new design business called LoveFrom. Apple said it will be a client of the new venture. Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, who like Cook is known for his operational expertise, is now in charge of Ive's design team.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read the full report at The Wall Street Journal.