Apple's top iPod gun to depart; Papermaster in; Jobs succession gets murkier

Apple's top iPod gun to depart; Papermaster in; Jobs succession gets murkier

Summary: Updated: Tony Fadell, the senior vice president in charge of Apple's iPod division, is leaving the company to be replaced by Mark Papermaster, a former Big Blue executive who is being sued by IBM over a non-compete clause.The move (statement), first reported by the Wall Street Journal, marks the departure of one of the executives behind Apple's transformation into an entertainment and mobile handset company.

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Updated: Tony Fadell, the senior vice president in charge of Apple's iPod division, is leaving the company to be replaced by Mark Papermaster, a former Big Blue executive who is being sued by IBM over a non-compete clause.

The move (statement), first reported by the Wall Street Journal, marks the departure of one of the executives behind Apple's transformation into an entertainment and mobile handset company.  Fadell had his fingerprints on two of Apple's big hits: The iPod and the iPhone. You could argue that those two products transformed Apple into what it is today.

In a statement, Apple noted that Fadell is leaving the company for personal reasons and will remain as an advisor:

Fadell his wife Danielle Lambert, vice president of Human Resources, are reducing their roles within the company as they devote more time to their young family. Fadell will remain at Apple as an advisor to the CEO. Lambert will depart the company at the end of this year after a successor is in place.

Papermaster will take over the iPod and iPhone unit, a fact that may get him out of his IBM non-disclosure pickle. Papermaster was in charge of blade server development at IBM. You could argue that running the iPhone and iPod unit isn't competitive with blade servers.

Also see: IBM sues brainiac looking to leap to Apple; Download the docs

Simply put, Faddell's departure is a big deal. And Faddell's move may become an even bigger deal if IBM can keep Papermaster from joining Apple.

But the larger issue here is the handicapping of CEO Steve Jobs replacement. Jobs isn't going anywhere at the moment, but recent press conferences may indicate that he's at least pondering a succession plan. Jobs has been yielding the spotlight to other top execs like chief operating officer Tim Cook.

While the Jobs successor is a topic of conversation among techies, it's unclear whether anything is imminent (it probably isn't). Nevertheless, Faddell was noted as a possible successor. VentureBeat's MG Siegler hits this theme and notes:

Not only are the iPod and iPhone huge businesses for Apple that Faddell was heavily involved in, he was on the short list of names regularly tossed around as possible replacements for current Apple chief executive Steve Jobs were he ever to leave the company. Perhaps no tech company is so closely tied to its leader as Apple, and shareholders will likely want to know that the person who takes over will be able to keep the money rolling in like Jobs has in recent years. Fadell was one of those people.

Left unsaid is that Papermaster isn't--at least at the moment. Executives Tim Cook, Phil Schiller and Jonathan Ive also took some of Jobs' spotlight at the recent MacBook launch, but it's unclear whether they could fill the CEO role. Cook could--and even wore Jobs' trademark outfit--but Jobs is one tough act to follow. Any turnover in the executive suite throws a monkey wrench into possible succession planning.Here's Sam's take on the Jobs succession planning:

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobility, IT Employment

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4 comments
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  • Ironic that in this era of the "paperless office"

    We have the "Paper Master" leading the charge. :)
    GuidingLight
  • RE: Apple's top iPod gun to depart; Papermaster in; Jobs succession gets mu

    It's a tough situation all the way around. In going
    after Papermaster as Fadell's replacement, an obvious
    stick gets stuck in Apple's eye.

    Papermaster is not just a common everyday tech
    employee. He is the VP of Big Blue. Who is itself
    involved in a field Apple is as well. Just going into
    another department doesn't take away that Trade
    Secrets and information vital to IBM won't find their
    way across the hall or down the corridor!

    The Judge will want to know why he's going to a
    competitor in a lower position not even related to his
    prior position, field or rank!

    I personally don't see Papermaster coming out of this
    with his hat on straight! ....he will end up in a
    similar predicament as Fadell. In forced retirement on
    a retainer. Where he can not be hired by any competing
    company under his NDA's and NCA's. Fadell most likely
    signed the same type of NCA's and NDA's with Apple as
    Papermaster for sure has! ;) Both are in catch 22's
    for the near future and both are young enough to want
    to keep working!!!
    i2fun@...
  • RE: Apple's top iPod gun to depart; Papermaster in; Jobs succession gets murkier

    My money is on Tim Cook. His shirt may have be black. I bet his shorts were orange and blue.

    Jim at Ex-Employee.com
    @...
  • RE: Apple's top iPod gun to depart; Papermaster in; Jobs succession gets murkier

    The last thing we want to focus on is Tim Cook's shorts. Sheesh.

    You just never know who Steve is going to appoint for anything at any time. Obviously he's got someone in mind somewhere, but then again with him looking at this seriously the board still has to look at the bigger picture beyond what Steve may be thinking about.

    I wish him well in his decision and if an email reaches me to come in and chat, I'll do it, but ZDNet would be the last people to know about it. I'd hate speculation to be swirling around me. Been there, done that and even your photographers could not get the lighting right in that case.

    Apple's going to do fine. Eventually someone new will take the reins and drive it along a different path, but still forward. Dvorak tells me I scare him because I am too sensitive. More companies and their CEOs should be. More should be in touch with their marketplaces. SUN ARE YOU LISTENING???? YAHOO are YOU listening????

    Whatever Apple needs, Apple will get. IBM should let go of Papermaster and let him do his thing.

    They'll learn soon.

    Michael Murdock - the former Apple CEO candidate 1997
    ceo@...