Ellen Hancock has pinned her future with Apple Computer to the fortunes of the company's leader, saying that she will stay with the troubled computer vendor as long as Gilbert Amelio remains chairman and CEO.
There had been press speculation that Hancock might leave her post at Apple within weeks because of friction between her and Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder who was recently appointed advisor to Amelio.
Formerly Apple's chief technology officer, Hancock this week found herself in a reduced role as an executive vice president in the technology office, responsible for reliability and quality, the chief scientist, Apple fellows and the Advanced Technology Group. Two former Next Software Inc. executives, meanwhile, were moved into key technology positions at Apple.
At the Macworld Expo in Tokyo, Hancock told the IDG News Service that she expects to stay with Apple, but added that "I'm sticking with the company with Gil Amelio as chairman."
An Apple spokesman at the company's Cupertino, California, headquarters said that neither Amelio nor Hancock has plans to leave the company.
The company's leadership has been hit hard recently by high-level departures. At least five high-ranking executives have resigned from Apple just this month, including Marco Landi, the head of worldwide sales, and Heidi Roizen, head of developer relations.
Amelio moved to Apple a year ago with a mandate to revive the company, an icon of the computer industry that in the last few years has suffered significant financial and market losses and a number of product setbacks. In July, he enlisted Hancock, a former top executive at National Semiconductor, where the two had worked together, and at IBM.
Hancock acknowledged that there was anxiety within Apple as to Jobs' intentions. Industry speculation has Jobs plotting to take back the reins to the company from which he was ousted a decade ago.
"We do look to Steve to make it clear to everybody what his intentions are relative to the company," Hancock said. "Gil is working with him to make sure he makes that statement to everyone."
The statement in question? "That he is at Apple to serve as an advisor to the chairman," she said.
In rejoining Apple, Jobs also struck a deal late last year for Apple to purchase his company, Next Software, for US$400 million. Apple plans to use Next's software technology in future versions of its operating system.
Hancock also acknowledged that, after signing on as technology chief, she found more challenges than she expected, including difficulties in revamping Apple's operating system development efforts.
"I wouldn't call it fun yet. I did not expect the problems I found with the OS," she said. "That consumed me for months."