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iPhone 4 hardware exec exits Apple

The executive in charge of iPhone hardware development has left Apple amid rumours his exit came as a result of the latest phone's highly publicised antenna problems

The Apple engineering executive who oversaw the development of the iPhone 4 has left the company just weeks after it was forced into a humiliating climbdown over problems with the phone's antenna.

The exit of Mark Papermaster, who joined JobsCo from IBM just over a year ago, was confirmed by Apple. It didn't provide any more details.

The latest development in the iPhone saga was first revealed by an unnamed source in the New York Times. It claims Papermaster had been given the boot due to a series of problems, some of which concerned the upcoming fourth-gen iPod touch.

The Wall Street Journal painted a very different story, however, suggesting the ex-IBM employee couldn't handle the culture and politics of Apple. He had a falling out with Steve Jobs, the newspaper claimed, and hadn't been involved in the decision-making process for some time.

Whatever the full story, it's unlikely to have much effect on iPhone development -- Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Mac hardware engineering, will assume Papermaster's responsibilities. Mansfield is already responsible for Apple technologies such as the A4 chip, retina display and touchscreen, so iPhone development looks to be in safe hands.

He'll have his work cut out to restore Apple's reputation for smooth development and top-notch engineering. Even before its release, the iPhone 4 was beset by problems. There was the furore that erupted when a prototype of the iPhone 4 was left in a Californian bar, and revealed to the world by the Gizmodo blog. More recently, a media storm ensued over a flaw in the design of the iPhone 4, which meant the phone had reception issues if it was held in a certain way.