Apple head of iPhone engineering leaves following 'Antennagate'

Analyst says iPhone 4 issues may not be the reason, however

Mark Papermaster, Apple's senior vice president of engineering for the iPhone and iPod, is leaving the firm, according to reports by The New York Times.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling confirmed to the publication that Papermaster is leaving the company. His responsibilities will be assumed by Bob Mansfield, vice president of Macintosh engineering.

Papermaster's biography and photograph have already been yanked from Apple's website. Google's cache indicated that it had been pulled sometime after last Tuesday.

Dowling did not respond to email from Computerworld US seeking confirmation and asking whether Papermaster's departure was connected to the complaints earlier this summer about the iPhone 4's reception.

Papermaster, a 26-year-veteran of IBM, joined Apple in October 2008, but was barred from working there five days later when IBM filed a lawsuit that claimed he was violating a a non-compete agreement by joining Apple. IBM also argued that working for Apple would "irreparably harm" it.

Apple and IBM struck an agreement in January 2009 that allowed Papermaster to begin his stint with Apple in April of that year. In his position, Papermaster oversaw the engineering of two of Apple's four revenue pillars, the iPhone and the iPod.

Papermaster's departure immediately ignited speculation that it was connected to what Apple CEO Steve Jobs called "Antennagate" last month.

Although many connected dots between Antennagate and Papermaster's departure, one analyst rejects the idea.

"I don't think that's the case," says Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Company. "When you have a company the size of Apple, you're going to have turnover at low levels and high levels. I don't see this as that big of deal," he says.

Instead, Marshall has a different theory; that IBM and Apple have vastly different corporate cultures, with the former known for its button-down ways, while the latter is much more casual. And Papermaster had worked at the more-structured IBM for over two-and-a-half decades.

"At the end of the day, it might have been that he didn't have enough t-shirts and blue jeans in his closet," says Marshall.

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Tags iPhone4AppleMark Papermasterantennagate

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