Apple executive leaves company after iPhone 4 antenna issues

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mark Papermaster, formerly an Apple Inc. executive overseeing hardware engineering for the company's iPhone, is stepping down from his post. The move came after Apple received criticism last month for the placement of the antenna on their most recent iPhone model, iPhone 4.

Apple confirmed that Papermaster, 49, had left the company, but did not say whether he decided to leave or was forced out. Papermaster did not comment on the situation.

According to The New York Times, who first broke the news about Papermaster's departure, an anonymous individual "with direct knowledge of the situation" claimed that the former executive had been ousted over various hardware issues, some related to the iPod Touch.

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs first introduced iPhone 4, he praised the device's antenna design. However, many consumers reported that, when holding the phone in a certain location, reception would decrease and sometimes lead to dropped calls. Apple's response to the issue, dubbed "Antennagate" by the media, was first to recommend holding the phone in a different location. They later found a related software glitch that caused the signal strength to be misreported on the device. In a July 16 press conference, Jobs said that all iPhone 4 buyers would be eligible to receive a free case, or "bumper," which alleviates the signal problem.

Citing people familiar with the situation, The Wall Street Journal reported that Papermaster had been pushed out due to an incompatibility with Apple's corporate culture. The sources claimed that Papermaster was not used to the environment or corporate politics and did not possess the creativity the company wanted to see. They also said that it was Jobs, not Papermaster, who made the decision to proceed with iPhone 4 development even though the company had been aware of potential signal problems resulting from the antenna placement as early as a year ago.

Papermaster's post will be filled by Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president for Macintosh engineering. Mansfield was already involved in iPhone development, overseeing processor and display engineering.

Papermaster had been with Apple since November 2008, but a United States federal judge barred him from working until April 2009. He had previously held a senior position with IBM, where he had worked for 25 years. IBM sued Papermaster in an attempt to block him from joining Apple, but a settlement was reached after he testified that no IBM corporate secrets had been disclosed to Apple.