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Is iconic designer Jonathan Ive leaving Apple?

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BANGALORE, INDIA: Even as Apple shook the gadget world with the launch of its much-anticipated new version of iPad, it is being rumoured that Jonathan Ive, 'Apple's Man Behind the Curtain' is planning to leave the company.

According to media reports the iconic designer of iPad, who is Apple's senior vice president of industrial design, is planning to pack his bags and baggages, as he wants to go back to the UK and Apple has reportedly told him that if he moved back to England he could no longer work with the company.

It is said that the Board was not happy with his spending more time in UK, his native place.

“Unfortunately he is just too valuable to Apple and they told him in no uncertain terms that if he headed back to England he would not be able to sustain his position with them,” Times quoted a friend of his as saying.

According to the Times and the Daily Mail, Ive had got an option grant in 2008, which is now worth $US30 million. If he decides to sell that stock, his combined net worth would be $US128 million.

He is known as the driving force behind the design of the majority of the gadgets from Apple, that made it the world's most valuable tech company. However, an Apple spokesperson said that any claims of Ive wanting to move to England are “speculation”.

Ive, who always keeps a low profile, has led the Apple design team since 1996 and reports directly to Jobs. He has played a major role in making Apple products instantly recognizable from their minimalistic curves, challenging the notion that technological products are purely functional.

According to Business Week, which profiled Jonathan Ive in detail, he is Apple's Man Behind the Curtain. While Jobs sets the direction and provides the inspiration, Ive melds Apple's unique creativity with the nuts-and-bolts required to make beautiful things, it said.

Ive reportedly wants to settle in England because he is keen to educate his kids in England.

And, amidst the hype over iPad 2, and the rumor over Steve Jobs' health the million dollar question in the industry circle is “Will Apple lose the iconic designer who was dubbed as the "the most influential Briton in America" by Daily Telegraph.

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