Papermaster lacked Apple “creative thinking” says WSJ; Jobs green-lighted iPhone 4 antenna

Aug 9, 2010
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Further speculation on Mark Papermaster's departure from Apple has emerged, with the WSJ weighing in with some sources of their own.  Their insiders say Papermaster - who, it was revealed over the weekend, has either resigned or been fired from his position as senior vice president for mobile devices at Apple - had been experiencing ongoing "difficulty maneuvering Apple's internal politics" and had "lost the confidence" of CEO Steve Jobs "months ago".

"Exactly how much the problems with the iPhone 4 played in Mr. Papermaster's exit is unclear. The iPhone 4, a key device for Apple, has been beset by issues such as antenna reception and delayed production of a white version of the gadget. Several people familiar with Mr. Papermaster's situation said his departure was driven by a broader cultural incompatibility.

Mr. Papermaster had lost the confidence of Mr. Jobs months ago and hasn't been part of the decision-making process for some time, these people said. They added that Mr. Papermaster didn't appear to have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple and wasn't used to Apple's corporate culture, where even senior executives are expected to keep on top of the smallest details of their areas of responsibility and often have to handle many tasks directly, as opposed to delegating them."

Papermaster's departure - and difficulty in fitting into the Apple corporate ethos - is being painted as a side-effect of his previous career with IBM, and his joining the Cupertino company as mobile device lead while Jobs was absent undergoing a liver transplant in early 2009.  During that time, like other executives, Papermaster would have had more autonomy than was usual in Apple's regular management style; that, insiders suggest, left him behind the curve when Jobs returned.

Meanwhile, according to the WSJ it was Jobs not Papermaster that pushed ahead with the iPhone 4 antenna design, "even though the company was aware of the risks ... as much as a year ago."  Jobs has always maintained that, despite the problems with the so-called "death grip", iPhone 4 wireless performance is considerably stronger than that of its predecessors.


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