Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

Summary: Apple has confirmed that exec Mark Papermaster is no longer with the company but isn't saying much more. Was it over Antennagate or was Papermaster culturally incompatible with Apple?

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Over the weekend, Apple confirmed to the New York Times that Mark Papermaster, the executive who oversees the iPhone, is no longer with the company but would not say whether Papermaster resigned or was terminated.

Papermaster, you may recall, is the former IBM exec who was sued by Big Blue in an effort to block his employment with Apple. Months later, IBM reached an agreement with Papermaster and he was allowed to begin working with Apple. That was almost 16 months ago.

In that time, the company has had one big release under Papermaster - the iPhone 4, a device that will live in infamy not because it was a technological breakthrough but instead because of the Antennagate controversy.

The antenna problems with the iPhone 4 - the so-called Antennagate - that surfaced after its release, as well as delays of the white iPhone, are issues that would have fallen on Papermaster's lap. And despite Apple's attempt to downplay the issue during a hastily-called press conference, the incident left the company with a public relations black eye. It's understandable that someone would have to go because of it.

But a Wall Street Journal report notes that Papermaster's departure appears to be about more than just hardware and engineering missteps with the iPhone 4. There was reportedly a falling out with Steve Jobs, which alone is probably enough to score any executive a one-way ticket to the exit. The Journal also noted that Papermaster had trouble with Apple's internal politics, didn't have the creative flair Apple execs need and, overall, couldn't grasp the corporate culture at Apple.

Frankly, he didn't fit it. But does that really surprise anyone?

At IBM, Papermaster was the VP of the company's blade server development unit. The company called him its "top expert in 'Power' architecture and technology" and he is credited in numerous white papers on everything from chip architecture to caching to synthetic workloads.

At Apple, Papermaster was head of engineering and design of a consumer product that is just as much about appearance and aesthetics as it is about engineering and technology. In fact, given that the delay of a white-colored iPhone (that's going to have to be covered with a bumper case to work properly) has been so worthy of headlines, it could be argued that appearance trumps functionality. (But that's a different post for a different time.)

IBM and Apple may both fall under the larger tech industry umbrella - but they couldn't be any more different. IBM is old school tech, the back-room stuff that the IT guys mess with. IBM is East Coast, a traditional, suit-wearing big business. Apple, on the other hand, is West Coast, flip-flop-wearing geniuses making must-have products that not only raise the bar in both looks and functionality but also come packaged with a badge of California cool.

The businesses are different and the cultures are different. And while that's not to say that the two worlds can't overlap for some, it's understandable how things might fall apart pretty fast for others.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, CXO, IBM, iPhone, Mobility, Servers, Smartphones

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18 comments
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  • fabricated

    please get over the fabricated antennagate bs. it is getting tired. it's a minor issue for 0.55% (apple care complaints) of the users. no one cares in the real world. apple is selling them like hotcakes, they are on a backlog of three weeks in most countries around the world (and 9 (!) weeks here in germany). they can't make them fast enough. they will break every sales record with it.

    only the apple hating geek and nerds blogosphere had "issues" with it. as i said no one cares in the real world, all iphone 4 owners i know never had any problem with it, quite the opposite, it has the best reception of any iphone.

    besides that: yes i also thought that papermaster was an odd choice in the beginning with his IT tech related backround.
    banned from zdnet
    • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

      @banned from zdnet But it IS an issue... after all the iPhone 4 has a 1.7% return rate because of the antenna. People have YouTube videos of the issue, Apple tried to redirect the issue by posting video of other mobile phones having this issue so it must be a huge issue.../sarcasm

      Everyone keeps referring to "Antennagate" like it's some big thing - with a 1.7% return rate (which as the Apple Haters have said is due entirely to the antenna) then presumably the other 98.3% of those who purchased the iPhone 4 are satisfied with their choice and have no issues with the antenna.

      I think that Papermaster's departure has less to do with any of the antenna issues or delays of a white iPhone than it does with that he most likely had some culture shock or a run-in with El Stevebo...
      athynz
    • Fabricated?

      @banned from zdnet

      So, Apple acknowledges the issue, but YOU don't?

      I'm curious, did Toyota's have a real issue, or are you denying that, as well?

      All iPhone owners you know? How many do know....ten out of millions.

      You write as though stupidity was a virtue.
      trickytom2
      • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

        @trickytom2
        Listen up Tricky Tommy Tuttle.

        You know nothing.

        Ignorance is your stock and trade.

        Making a show of it is your MO.
        yobtaf
      • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

        @trickytom2

        Apple acknowledged the laws of physics and the nature of all smartphones.

        RIM & Nokia then proceeded to deny physics and reality.

        There is no more of an issue with the iPhone 4 than with my Sony-Ericsson K750i.

        So - No they did not acknowledge an issue in the way you are pretending they did!!!
        richardw66
    • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

      @banned from zdnet <i>it's a minor issue for 0.55% (apple care complaints) of the users. no one cares in the real world.</i><br><br>So Steve pulled that press conference together for a non-existent issue? Uh huh.
      Badgered
      • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

        @Badgered Not just the press conference, but millions in free bumpers as well.
        rtk
      • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

        @Badgered <br><br>For a PR issue whipped up by people who would not use an Apple product, and did not use the product, and had no business wasting bandwidth with hate.<br><br>So if I were to accuse you publicly of being evil - and you responded then that would be proof you are evil?

        And millions of free bumpers because they are nice to their customers, and because all phones work better with a case according to their tests.
        richardw66
      • All I can say is: WOW.

        @richardw66

        "And millions of free bumpers because they are nice to their customers"

        If you honestly believe this, you are Apple's perfect customer, deluded.
        rtk
      • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

        @Badgered
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    • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

      @banned from zdnet too bad you aren't truly banned from zdnet, because you'rea friggin' idiot.
      sackbut
      • thanks guys ...

        @sackbut
        for the insults.
        banned from zdnet
  • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

    Yes, people have posted videos of the antenna problem of the iPhone, but there are also videos of other phones with the same issue. Just as Apple said, its common with many phones. Its interesting that the most annoying problem that has received little attention is the fact that the proximity sensor sucks which causes people to accidentally dial/hangup/3 way call etc. when talking to people. I bet half of the dropped calls people are complaining about are accidental hang-ups because the sensor or software is failing. This should be a priority for Apple but they are slow in releasing an update. Quote the Apple tech- "You have an odd ear shape that is confusing the sensor algorithm. We are working on an update"
    smartin007
  • other issues as well

    The proximity sensor remains a problem with quite a few iPhone 4 users as well as the not yet mentioned "no sim card installed" error...
    nothingness
  • IBM and Apple.....

    are like oil and water. Don't operate at all alike. Given the long hardware lead times, I suspect that his departure had more to do with corporate culture than "Antennagate".
    Userama
    • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

      @Userama <br><br>Well the description of Papermaster's background compared with Apple would indicate that if the ZDNet definition of Apple design was an issue then Papermaster would have been the reason there was no antenna problem, rather than the cause of a problem!!!<br><br>If Papermaster was a back room engineering kind of guy then why would he be responsible for a bogus engineering problem? That slipped past the multi-million dollar testing program that many posters on here claimed did not exist!!

      The reality is that for Apple to produce the products it does, there are many many more man hours of testing and redesign than any other company. New and innovative design, with an emphasis on UI is harder and more labour intensive than just bashing out something with high spec numbers but bad design.
      richardw66
  • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

    banned from zdnet, athynz, smartin007 - this is not about your perceptions around the i4 antenna issue - it's about the "missfit" of corporate culture and expectation and what can be labeled on this exec as a way to show "improvement".

    Sam - bet he goes back to IBM or a similiar position with a nice raise though...
    rhonin
  • RE: Papermaster at Apple: a short-lived relationship that never quite fit

    t...
    isoughtajam@...