Apple's chief sales executive steps down

Less than two weeks after Apple Computer said it would fall short of its revenue goals for the quarter, the company's chief sales executive announces he will leave the company at the end of the year.

Less than two weeks after Apple Computer said it would fall short of its revenue goals for the quarter, the company's chief sales executive announced Monday he will leave the company at the end of the year.

Mitch Mandich, senior vice president of worldwide sales, will retire from Apple at the end of December, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said.

"Mitch has been a key member of Apple's senior management team during the past three years and has led our sales efforts with vigor and integrity," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. "Mitch plans to retire and spend more time with his family. We will miss him."

Tim Cook, Apple's senior vice president of operations, will assume Mandich's responsibilities until a replacement is found, the company said.

Although it is unclear whether Mandich's retirement is connected with Apple?s recent sales skid, it is clear the executive has seen better days. Mandich came to Apple as the company completed its acquisition of Next Computer in early 1997 and after Jobs returned to Apple.

The company was then at one of its chronic low points. Toward the middle of 1997, however, the company rebounded under a new management team that included both Jobs and Mandich. Market share, sales and Apple's stock price climbed. In 1998, the company pushed style to the forefront with the iMac, which proved to be a popular consumer computer.

Signs of weakness began to crop up last quarter, however. In July, the company beat earnings expectations for its third fiscal quarter but reported lower-than-expected revenue because of slow iMac sales.

In late September, the company warned revenue would be substantially below expectations because of low sales in Europe and less-than-sizzling demand for its latest creation, the G4 Cube.

"(Mandich) has played a critical role in our sales spurt in the past three years," a spokeswoman said.

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