Papermaster, Apple Split May be Cultural

| News

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.

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An IBM Guy went to Apple and couldn’t handle the different corporate culture.
IMO that sounds a lot more likely than the speculated iPhone4 connection.

Lee Dronick

An IBM Guy went to Apple and couldn?t handle the different corporate culture.
IMO that sounds a lot more likely than the speculated iPhone4 connection.

Too late for that. The chattering class has already declared that it was due to antennagate.


Having been involved in this type of high level departure at a moment of crisis, I can tell you that the last thing a company, such as Apple, would willingly do is fire Papermaster, because of how the press will spin it and because plaintiffs’ counsel in the class action suits will now focus even more on Papermaster, hoping any ill feeling toward Apple will loosen his tongue. That is why I think that it is true that Papermaster left Apple, because of a confrontation with Jobs, because Apple would have wanted to keep Papermaster on, though without any real responsibility, until the worst of the crisis had passed.

However, these high level execs have big egos and a lot pride and a lot wealth.  In a confrontation with the CEO, where harsh thing are said and an executive is reduced to a powerless figurehead, it may not be possible to avoid the CEO firing the guy, or his deciding on his own to leave.  And if Jobs loses faith in an executive, his desire to see the man gone might easily override strategic legal and PR considerations that would urge retain him.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Apologies to Metallica…

Your phone runs faster
Obey your master
Antenna disaster
Obey your master, master.

Master of paper,
It’s time for you to leave
You don’t micromanage, you don’t worship me

This ain’t IBM,
You worthless zombie
I hear there’s an opening at HP.



I imagine shortly after arriving at Apple and seeing the iPhone 4 for himself Papermaster had the following interaction with Jobs:

Papermaster: “Jesus H Christ, you have no idea what kind of absolute horror I just laid eyes on Steve.”

Jobs: “I didn’t know Steve Ballmer was coming by today.”

Papermaster: “No Steve, it’s this utter failure of a phone that some twit in baseband engineering was working on! <shows iPhone 4 to Jobs>.”

Jobs: “That’s my design.”

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