Apple tech guru no longer part of senior exec team

bob-mansfieldApple’s respected technology chief, Bob Mansfield is no longer part of the company’s executive leadership team, though he remains at Apple “working on special projects” for CEO Tim Cook.

Mansfield’s photo and biography were deleted from Apple’s website over the weekend. The change was noticed Sunday afternoon and first reported by MacRumors.

AllThingsD got a vague statement from Apple spokesman Steve Dowling: “Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team, but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim [Cook].” Dowling “declined any further explanation, refusing to comment on the reasons behind Mansfield’s surprising move, whether he remains Apple’s SVP of Technologies or whether the company plans to appoint a new executive to that role,” according to AllThingsD.

Mansfield in October 2012 became Senior Vice President of Technologies, in charge of a group focused on wireless technology and semiconductors, and reporting directly to Tim Cook. That appointment itself was news, because earlier in 2012, Apple said that Mansfield was retiring. In announcing the new post, Cook said Mansfield would remain with the company for two more years.

Mansfield joined Apple in 1999, in charge of Mac products. He led the teams that created the MacBook Air and the iMac all-in-one product. The New York Times’ Bits blog reported in February 2013 that Mansfield was heavily involved in developing “wearable” technology for Apple, including the rumoured “iWatch.”

“Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president for technologies, who previously ran hardware engineering, has also been particularly interested in wearables, an Apple employee said,” according to the blog post. “Mr. Mansfield is engrossed by devices that connect to the iPhone, through Bluetooth, sharing information back and forth from the human body to the phone, including the Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up.”

The brief Apple biography page is still available via Google’s cache.

The lack of explanation from Apple about the change is already fuelling rumours. AllThingsD: “Which makes his sudden removal from Apple’s executive team and abrupt disappearance from the company’s leadership page all the more curious. Mansfield’s departure from the company caused some organisational pain inside Apple and the company paid a lot of money to bring him back – a cash and stock package worth about $2 million a month. That it would now move him off the executive team – whether it be at Cook’s request or his own – not a year later is unusual indeed.”

It’s not clear what “unusual” means in this context, regarding a senior executive who had already announced his retirement, then decided to stay on for two years in a new senior role reporting to the CEO. Mansfield is still with the company, still reporting to the CEO, and still apparently working on the special projects with which he’s been involved since at least last October.

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