Apple's chief iPhone hardware exec departs following 'Antennagate'

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) senior executive for iPhone hardware left the company on Friday, and it remains unclear whether he left voluntarily or was ousted following problems with the iPhone 4's antenna.

Mark Papermaster, Apple's senior vice president for mobile devices, left Apple, the company confirmed, but it declined to comment on the circumstances of his departure. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Papermaster had a falling out with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, which led to his exit. The Journal report said Papermaster did not fit into Apple's corporate culture, and it was unclear how much the problems with the iPhone 4's antenna played into his departure.

Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president for Macintosh hardware engineering, will take over Papermaster's duties. Mansfield is already responsible for the iPhone's chip and display, and Apple's touchscreens, the company said. Apple shipped 8.4 million iPhones in its most recent quarter, which generated revenue of $5.3 billion. 

After the iPhone 4 was released in June, customers began complaining about connection troubles when they touched the lower left portion of the device. Apple initially suggested customers hold it a different way, but after complaints mounted and Consumer Reports said it could not recommend the device, Apple held a press conference to address the issue. Jobs defended the product and said all smartphones suffer from similar antenna issues, but also announced Apple would give iPhone 4 customers free bumper cases, which alleviate the issue. Notably, Papermaster was not present at the press conference.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this NYT article
- see this Fortune blog post
- see this Daring Fireball post

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