Apple Exec Papermaster Leaves Following iPhone 4 Issues

| News

Apple’s senior vice president of Devices Hardware Engineering, Mark Papermaster, was confirmed to no longer be with the company as of Saturday. Mr. Papermaster joined Apple a little over a year and a half ago and was involved in the design of the iPhone 4.

Company spokesperson, Steve Dowling, told The New York Times that Mr. Papermaster wasn’t with Apple any more, although he didn’t say whether or not he was fired. 

“[Mr. Papermaster] is leaving the company and Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering, is assuming his responsibilities,” Mr. Dowling said.

Despite his involvement in the Macintosh side of Apple’s business, Mr. Mansfield is familiar with the iPhone project, too, because he also manages the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, and is in charge of the team that designs the A4 processor used in the iPhone and iPad.

Despite Apple’s limited statement about Mr. Papermaster’s departure, public speculation is already suggesting the move was directly related to iPhone 4 antenna-related issues. Some customers complained about signal bar loss issues after the iPhone 4 shipped, leading to a media frenzy.

The new iPhone’s external antenna design is susceptible to potential signal loss when user’s hands cover the lower left corner of the device. Not all iPhone 4 owners, however, have been able to replicate the issue.

The complaints and media buzz ultimately led to an Apple press conference where CEO Steve Jobs pointed out that most all smart phones suffer from the same issue. The company also promised free cases to iPhone 4 owners to help address the signal loss issue.

Presumably, Mr. Mansfield will assume his new duties immediately.

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With the legal fight with IBM Mr. Papermaster did not start working for Apple until early 2009
That was only about a year before the iPhone4 was introduced. I wonder if he would have approved such a fundamental design element as the antenna placement that late in the design process. It seems to me that by 2009 the overall design would have been set and the work would have been on details.

Unless of course the issue was brought to his attention and Mr. Papermaster decided to not do anything to mitigate it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

IBM totally got over on Apple. I thought they protested a little too much when Papermaster jumped ship for Cupertino. The man with the perfect name for the desktop publishing era single-handedly ruins a product in the mobile age.


We’ll probably never know for sure. At least until his autobiography, “On the Firing Line: My 500 Day At Apple” hits the book stores (then we’ll have his half of the story).

My best guess at this point was that it was a management issue.


Title of the article, while factual, makes the impression that Papermaster left because of the antenna issues by stringing two facts together and implying a connection. There can be several reasons why Papermaster left, including that he couldn’t handle the corporate culture at Apple. It also could have been related to antenna issues but the facts supporting this are not evidence right now.



Either that, or he was the scapegoat to take the blame for the design.  Or it could be that he just didn’t fit with Apple.  There are a lot of talented people who couldn’t work there.  It could also be that they put him in a division that he wasn’t familiar with.  He was in charge of blade servers at IBM, so what the hell did he know about antennas?  About the same as we do.

Lee Dronick

Title of the article, while factual, makes the impression that Papermaster left because of the antenna issues by stringing two facts together and implying a connection.

Yes, there is no way of knowing the reason why with the facts we currently have in hand. However, the chattering class has already riveted the two facts together.


single-handedly ruins a product in the mobile age

Heh. I wish one of my products was ruined to the tune of more than 3 million units (as of a month ago) and counting. With that kind of dough I could start thinking of buying those couple of congressman I’ve had my eye on…

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