In November 2008, Tony Fadell, Apple’s senior vice president of the company’s iPod and iPhone divisions, stepped down due to “personal reasons.” At the time, this was thought to be a blow to Apple, as Fadell was considered to be one of the execs on the short list to eventually succeed Steve Jobs as CEO. But Apple wasted little time finding a solid replacement: Mark Papermaster. But now, not even two years later, Papermaster is out as well, the New York Times reports today.
While no official reason was given for Papermaster’s departure, the timing is interesting to say the least. Papermaster’s official position was Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering — you know what that means: he was in charge of the iPhone 4′s hardware. Obviously, that hardware has been under a lot of scrutiny since the device’s launch due to antenna issues.
Bob Mansfield, Apple’s SVP of Apple’s Mac hardware engineering will step in to replace Papermaster, Apple confirmed to NYT. Sure enough, Papermaster’s bio is already gone from Apple’s executives page. This move makes sense as Mansfield was already heavily involved in the iPhone’s hardware architecture.
The Papermaster move is also interesting because Apple fought so hard to get him in the first place. Apple poached Papermaster from IBM where he was a VP in charge of the company’s microprocessors. Shortly after announcing him as their new exec, IBM filed suit to stop him from working at Apple. A judge quickly ruled that Papermaster had to halt work for Apple in November 2008 –just a few days after his hire.
IBM said Papermaster’s contract stated he could not work for a competitor for a least a year after leaving IBM. Apple was arguing that they weren’t a direct competitor. By January, the suit was resolved, but Papermaster wasn’t allowed to start work at Apple until the end of April 2009.
Not only that, but as part of the settlement, Papermaster had to check-in multiple times with the courts to make sure he wasn’t giving confidential IBM information to Apple. Despite all that, Apple clearly felt his 25 years worth of engineering experience was worth it. And now barely a year after his start date, he’s out. Odd.
Again, Apple won’t confirm that this has to do with the iPhone 4 antenna issue (or if Papermaster was fired or left on his own). But it is worth noting that Mansfield, not Papermaster, was present at Apple’s press conference last month to address the iPhone 4 antenna issues. It was also Mansfield, and not Papermaster, that was in the initial videos showing off the iPhone 4′s hardware.
Update: Something else to think about. During a tour of Apple’s device testing facilities (where Mansfield, but not Papermaster, was present), we were told that the iPhone 4 was being tested for a full two years before its launch. That means it was being tested before Papermaster got to Apple. While it’s not clear when the final hardware was approved for production, it’s certainly possible that Papermaster had little to do with that specific device’s hardware creation.
That said, in the time leading up to the iPhone 4′s launch, he clearly had to be heavily involved in every aspect of it — including the antenna. Is Papermaster a fall guy in this situation?
Update 2: Daring Fireball’s John Gruber heard from a source inside Apple a few weeks ago that Papermaster was “the guy responsible for the antenna.” He also heard that Papermaster, was in fact, fired. Going forward, clearly, he will no longer be the guy responsible for the antenna.
Started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, Apple has expanded from computers to consumer electronics over the last 30 years, officially changing their name from Apple Computer, Inc. to Apple, Inc. in January 2007. Among the key offerings from Apple’s product line are: Pro line laptops (MacBook Pro) and desktops (Mac Pro), consumer line laptops (MacBook Air) and desktops (iMac), servers (Xserve), Apple TV, the Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server operating systems, the iPod, the...
Mark Papermaster was the Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering at Apple from April 2009 until August 2010, when Apple confirmed he left the company for unspecified reasons. It is believed his departure may be related to the iPhone 4 antenna issues. Prior to Apple, Papermaster was a VP at IBM. IBM filed a suit in November 2008 to stop Papermaster from moving to Apple. That was eventually settled, but Papermaster could not start at Apple until April 2009.
Bob Mansfield is the Senior Vice President of Macintosh Hardware Engineering. He reports to COO Tim Cook. Mansfield is a regular at Apple’s events as he is often the one who explains the hardware aspects of Apple’s devices. In August 2010, it was revealed that Mansfield would take over the devices hardware management as well from Mark Papermaster, who was no longer with the company.