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Apple exodus continues as De Luca departs

Apple marketing chief calls it quits, following several other high-ranking executives out the door.

Apple Computer (AAPL) today announced another departure of a high-ranking executive.

Guerrino De Luca, Apple's executive vice president of marketing, has resigned from the company. De Luca had held the position since February.

"This is a personal decision which does not reflect my assessment of the company's prospects," De Luca said in a statement. "We are seeing a lot of changes at Apple, and I'm confident that Apple will shine again."

The resignation is effective today, but De Luca will remain at Apple for several weeks to help with the transition, said Katie Cotton, a spokeswoman for Apple. The company does not currently have any candidates in mind to fill the position, Cotton added.

Analysts say his resignation comes as no surprise in the wake of Steve Jobs taking the reins as interim CEO.

"Any time you see a change [in the highest position of a company, like CEO], the guys that were under the old machine move out, and the new CEO brings in his own hires," said Jim Poyner, an analyst with Oppenheimer & Company.

Poyner said it is unlikely Apple will be able to fill the vacancies quickly. He explained that it will be difficult because the incoming candidates know that their boss--the permanent replacement for former CEO Gilbert Amelio--hasn't been hired yet. "They will have to hope whoever they put in the CEO position will like them and not want to replace them with their own hand-picked team."

De Luca was president of Claris, the software subsidiary of Apple, from 1995 until early this year. He has held a variety of management positions at Apple and also at Olivetti, where he spent 11 years in research and development, engineering management, product strategy, and marketing management roles.

De Luca is the latest in a long line of executives to leave the troubled computer maker this year. In July, former chief executive Gilbert Amelio and former executive vice president of technology Ellen Hancock both resigned from the company.

In May, Apple's chief operating officer, George Scalise, resigned to become president of the Semiconductor Industry Association.

In February, Apple lost its chief contact with the development community, Heidi Roizen, vice president of developer relations. Later that month, four Apple executives left their posts as the company's founder, Steve Jobs, moved in. Satjiv Chahil, former head of corporate worldwide marketing; John Floisand, senior vice president for worldwide sales; and Fred Forsyth, senior vice president of Apple's Power Mac operations, also left Apple after a reshuffling of its executive management team earlier this month.

Yesterday, Apple named cofounder Jobs its interim CEO until a new CEO is found. Apple said it expects a replacement to be named by the end of the year.