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Apple in safe hands with bigger role for Ive: analysts

Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design at Apple Inc poses with his with his Knight Commander of the Order of the British E
Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of industrial design at Apple Inc poses with his with his Knight Commander of the Order of the British E

(Reuters) - The exit of Apple Inc's longtime mobile software products chief may be a surprise, but a band of able executives led by Tim Cook and a bigger role for design boss Jonathan Ive meant the company was in good hands, analysts said on Tuesday.

Ive, Apple's celebrated industrial design chief will now look into both hardware and software designs, following the departure of Scott Forstall after years of friction with other top executives.

"Yesterday's announcement all but confirmed that Ive will be with the company for the foreseeable future, putting to rest a recurring investor concern of an Apple without Ive," Piper Jaffray & Co analyst Gene Munster said in a research note.

"This, combined with Tim Cook's nine years remaining on his contract with Apple, suggests the two most critical management figures will be in place for the longer term."

John Browett, recently hired as Apple's retail chief, will also leave, the company said on Monday.

Eddy Cue, who runs online products, will lead Apple Maps and its Siri voice search software, while Craig Federighi, who oversees the OSX software that powers the Macintosh computers, will take charge of the iOS software.

"We think that despite the departure of Forstall who ran iOS development, iOS's future is in good hands," Munster said.

Forstall — long-time lieutenant of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs — refused to sign a public apology after the mapping software on the latest iPhone contained embarrassing errors and drew fierce criticism, Reuters reported citing sources.

His departure was years in the making, and came to a head with the Apple Maps incident, sources said.

"Though Scott Forstall's departure is a surprise, this appears to be part of Tim Cook putting his own stamp on the company, and importantly, he is still surrounded by several key long-time Apple executives and innovators," Robert W. Baird & Co analyst William Power said.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore, Editing by Joyjeet Das)

(This story corrects the headline to add attribution)

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