In November 2008 Apple hired IBM's Mark Papermaster to be Apple's Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering replacing Tony Fadell as head of Apple's iPod and iPhone divisions. A court deal later forced Papermaster to wait until April 2009 before starting at Apple.
Sixteen months after being allowed to work for Apple, Papermaster is out.
Speculation abounds that he's the first casualty of the iPhone 4's problematic antenna design, but neither Apple nor Papermaster have given a reason for the departure. One could reasonably assume that he may have been asked to resign for the design flaw in Apple's golden goose -- the iPhone 4.
It's suspect antenna design has been a publicity disaster for Apple -- dubbed "Antennagate" --and has lead to rumors that its successor (the iPhone 5) is being to rushed to market and that it could come as soon as in January 2011 -- six months earlier than the traditional summer time frame for iPhone launches.
MacRumors adds some fuel to the fire noting that Papermaster has been virtually invisible from Apple's promotion of the iPhone 4, curious for the head of the department that designed it.
In retrospect, today's news explains what should have been seen as a curious aspect of Apple's iPhone 4 press conference last month. The Q&A portion of the press conference was conducted by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, and Mansfield. Papermaster, whose division designed the iPhone 4, was to our knowledge not in attendance at the event.
In fact, even Apple's promotional video for the iPhone 4 released at the device's introduction in early June and featuring a number of Apple executives talking about it does not include Papermaster. Mansfield is, however, featured with the job title of Senior Vice President of Hardware, dropping the "Mac" qualifier that had been part of his official job at that time. According to The New York Times, Mansfield was involved in the design of several aspects of the iPhone 4, including its A4 chip and Retina display.
Apple confirmed the shakeup at Apple's most important devision in a statement to the New York Times stating that Papermaster “is leaving the company." Apple noted that Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering -- who recruited Papermaster in the first place -- will be assuming his responsibilities.
Could there be other casualties?