Apple’s IPhone Executive Leaves After Antenna Complaints

Mark Papermaster, the executive responsible for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod hardware, left the company following criticism of the phone’s antenna design. Bob Mansfield, a senior vice president in charge of Macintosh hardware engineering, will take over Papermaster’s duties, said Steve Dowling, a spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company.

“Mr. Mansfield already manages groups that create many of the key technologies for the iPhone and iPod Touch, including the A4 chip, Retina display and touch screens,” Dowling said.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs held a press conference on July 16 to address complaints that Apple’s new iPhone 4 loses signal strength when held a certain way. Jobs offered free cases to customers, saying Apple was “working our butts off” to find a permanent solution. He apologized to users affected by the issue, which some bloggers have called “Antennagate.”

The antenna flaw prompted Consumer Reports to not recommend the iPhone, citing difficulty sending and receiving calls. Apple was stunned, upset and embarrassed by the magazine’s review, Jobs said.

Papermaster started at Apple last year after a legal fight with his old employer, International Business Machines Corp. IBM had sued Papermaster, saying his move violated an agreement not to work for a competitor within a year of leaving his job. Papermaster claimed that the two companies aren’t major competitors and said his move to Apple didn’t violate the terms of his employment agreement. The companies resolved the dispute in January 2009.

Apple, the world’s biggest technology company by market value, fell $1.61 to $260.09 yesterday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares have climbed 23 percent this year. The New York Times reported earlier on Papermaster’s departure.

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