Apple's design boss will leave the company as it shifts to services, wiping out $9 billion.

iPhone designer Jony Ive announced his departure from Apple this week, as the company shifts its focus from hardware to services, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ive, who had been Apple’s top designer since 1996, spearheaded the development of many of Apple’s blockbuster products, including the iPad and the iPhone. The executive will leave the Silicon Valley giant later this year to form his own company, which will count Apple among its clients, according to reports.

“Under Mr. Ive, the design team reigned supreme at the company, calling the shots on how products looked and what functions they performed,” the Journal writes. Moving forward, the design team will be led by a team of two vice-presidents that reports to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.

The departure comes as the company strives to move away from its reliance on hardware, amid stronger competition from low-cost Chinese manufacturers like Huawei. "It's not a product and design company anymore," said an anonymous source quoted by the Journal.

It also coincides with Apple’s second back-to-back drop in quarterly sales and profit in more than two years.

Apple’s stock fell close to 1 percent in the hours after the announcement, wiping out around $9 billion from the company’s market capitalization.

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