Apple confirmed over the weekend that mobile phone head Mark Papermaster has left the company, and will be replaced by computer engineering chief Bob Mansfield. The company has declined to give further details on Papermaster’s departure.
Speculation and blog reports indicate that he was likely was let go for reasons surrounding the iPhone 4’s antenna, as well as problems related with hardware on other products that he had some influence over. Others reported that Papermaster had an increasingly strained relationship with CEO Steve Jobs.
Jobs had apparently lost confidence in the former IBM executive, who had a hard time adjusting to the culture at Apple. Papermaster was removed from the decision-making process months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The paper also said that Jobs had made the final decision to go ahead with the iPhone 4 antenna, a decision that has now proven to be a bad one considering the device’s reported problems.
The move should seem somewhat surprising given the amount of trouble Apple went through to secure his hire. After hiring Papermaster in late 2008, IBM sued and successfully got a court order for him to leave Apple while the case was being litigated.
Apple successfully settled the case, allowing Papermaster to take his position as head of the mobile devices division, replacing Tony Fadell who is widely considered as one of the founding fathers of the iPod concept.
It should not be too surprising that someone took the fall for the iPhone 4’s launch issues, which are uncharacteristic for Apple. The WSJ report also seems to suggest that Papermaster’s experience may have been somewhat incompatible with what he was tasked to do: executives at the Cupertino company are expected to have direct involvement in their department’s work.
Papermaster has declined to comment on the situation.