Papermaster, Apple Split May be Cultural

Former senior vice president of Devices Hardware, Mark Papermaster, abruptly left Apple over the weekend amid speculation that the iPhone 4’s antenna design led to his departure, although a falling out with CEO Steve Jobs may have been behind the move.

Unnamed sources familiar with the situation, according to the Wall Street Journal, claim Mr. Papermaster didn’t mesh with Apple’s culture and hadn’t been directly involved in company decisions for some time. Apparently Mr. Jobs lost confidence in Mr. Papermaster’s abilities at some point, too.

Despite public speculation, Apple has offered only a single statement on the situation. “[Mr. Papermaster] is leaving the company and Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering, is assuming his responsibilities,” a company spokesperson said.

Mr. Papermaster had been involved in the iPhone 4 project, although he was brought onboard after development was already underway. The combination iPod and smartphone’s external antenna design ultimately led to a series of headaches for the company over reports of signal strength loss issues when the lower left corner of the device was blocked by your hand.

Customer complaints, along with media attention, resulted in an Apple press conference where Mr. Jobs claimed signal interference from user’s hands is common in smartphones. He also promised free cases to iPhone 4 owners to help address the signal loss issue.

Mr. Papermaster worked for Apple for just over a year and a half. Hopefully Mr. Mansfield, who is already a part of Apple’s corporate culture, will last a little longer.