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Apple Computer announced that Avadis “Avie” Tevanian, its chief technology officer and the brains behind its OS X operating system, would leave the company at the end of the month.
Mr Tevanian, who joined Apple almost ten years ago from NeXT, the computer company Steve Jobs founded after he was forced out as Apple’s chief executive in 1985, was leaving to pursue “other interests”.
The company did not name a replacement.
“I think this is going to be a loss for Apple,” said Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner.
Mr Tevanian will become the second top executive to leave Apple just days before the company’s 30th birthday on April 1. Jon Rubinstein, the head of Apple’s iPod division, had previously announced plans to retire on March 31.
The departures come at a sensitive time for Apple, which is under pressure to build on the success of its blockbuster iPod personal music player franchise.
The company is also trying to carve out new market share for its core Macintosh computer brand after it introduced the first Macs powered by Intel microchips earlier this year. A new verison of the Mac operating system is due out this year.
Meanwhile, Apple was yesterday preparing for the latest round in a long-running legal dispute with Apple Corps, the Beatles holding company, over the use of the Apple name.
The companies will appear in a UK court today to argue about whether Apple’s iTunes music store violates a 1991 settlement that predated both iTunes and the internet, in which Apple agreed that it would not use its logo in connection with music distribution. ITunes recently passed the 1bn song downloads mark.
Shares in Apple fell 1.3 per cent to $58.71.