Apple’s iPhone chief leaves in wake of Antennagate

Mark Papermaster, the Apple executive in charge of iPhone engineering, has left the company only weeks after the “Antennagate” controversy.

Apple's iPhone chief leaves in wake of Antennagate

Apple has confirmed Papermaster’s departure, but has refused to comment on the reason why he left the company. An Apple source told New York Times that Papermaster had been “pushed out over a series of hardware problems, including some related to the iPod Touch”.

If the former IBM man’s departure is linked to the iPhone 4 antenna issue, it will once again raise questions over Apple’s public insistence that there is no hardware design flaw with the handset.

Apple released the iPhone 4 in June and it was an instant hit with consumers. But reports spread about bad reception when the device was held a certain way, and analysts warned that the company’s reputation for quality was under threat.

The issue snowballed into a publicity crisis and Apple was forced to call a press conference to tackle the matter. Apple CEO Steve Jobs maintained there was nothing wrong with the iPhone 4, and that the reception problem was one shared by other smartphones. Papermaster was not at the press conference on 16 July.

Ready-made replacement

Apple’s senior vice president of Mac hardware engineering, Bob Mansfield, will assume Papermaster’s responsibilities. “Mr. Mansfield already manages groups that create many of the key technologies for the iPhone and iPod touch, including the A4 chip, Retina display and touch screens,” an Apple spokesman said.

Apple hired Papermaster in November of 2008, luring him away from IBM, where he had worked for 25 years. IBM sued Papermaster after his departure, saying he agreed to avoid working for any competitor for a year.

A federal court initially barred Papermaster from working for Apple, but the lawsuit was eventually resolved and he began work for Apple in April of 2009.

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