WSJ: Papermaster left Apple over 'cultural incompatibility'

Mobile hardware engineering chief's exit may not have been solely related to iPhone 4 antenna issues. A report says it was due to his failure to thrive in Apple's corporate culture.

In addition to the iPhone 4 antenna design, mobile hardware chief Mark Papermaster reportedly "lost the confidence" of Steve Jobs (above) awhile ago.
In addition to the iPhone 4 antenna design, mobile hardware chief Mark Papermaster reportedly "lost the confidence" of Steve Jobs a while ago. James Martin/CNET

Mark Papermaster is no longer employed as Apple's mobile hardware engineering chief. But is it because he failed to foresee the issues related to the iPhone 4's antenna? Or because he just didn't fit in at Apple? Perhaps both.

When the news hit Saturday that Papermaster was no longer with the company and his duties assumed by Mac hardware engineering chief Bob Mansfield, it was fairly easy to connect the dots: the guy in charge of the iPhone's design was ousted over the embarrassing antenna episode, and also perhaps the lengthy delays in shipping the white version of the iPhone 4. Both areas would fall within Papermaster's purview.

But Papermaster only officially started working at Apple in April 2009 (after a legal battle with former employer IBM ), and Apple has said it spent two years testing the unique design placing the phone's antenna in the metal strip on the phone's exterior.

Turns out, it might be more than that. The Wall Street Journal cited several sources in a new report that Papermaster is no longer at Apple because of "broader cultural incompatibility."

Apparently the former IBM employee didn't adapt well to the internal company dynamics at Apple, nor to the man who sets the tone there, CEO Steve Jobs.

Papermaster "had lost the confidence" of Jobs several months ago and "didn't have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple," according to the report.

But the timing is just too coincidental. Perhaps combined with Papermaster's falling out with Jobs, the iPhone 4 antenna problem was the last straw.

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.


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