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Chip Guru Papermaster Loses Signal At Apple 374

Posted by kdawson
from the heads-gotta-roll dept.
ColdWetDog writes "Computerworld reports that Mark Papermaster has left his job as Apple's Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering. He was the senior executive in charge of engineering for the iPhone 4 and thus responsible in some unknown fashion for 'antennagate.' His name may ring bells from previous coverage of his jump from IBM to Apple. From a brief blurb on Daring Fireball: 'From what I've heard, it's clear he was canned. Papermaster was a conspicuous absence at the Antennagate press conference. Inside Apple, he's "the guy responsible for the antenna" — that's a quote from a source back on July 23. (Another quote from the same source: "Apparently the antenna guys used to have a big chip on their shoulder. No more.")'" Update: 08/08 03:01 GMT by KD : Swapped out a registration-required NY Times link for a Computerworld one; corrected the direction of Papermaster's career move.
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Chip Guru Papermaster Loses Signal At Apple

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 07, 2010 @11:05PM (#33177720)

    Make no mistake about it. The antenna was put where it is, on the outside because Jony Ive was in love with the design. Sure, Papermaster had to sign off on the design, but I assure you it's very difficult to say no to Jobs or Ive within Apple.

    If Papermaster was indeed held responsible for a problem that stemmed from Jony (backed by Steve Jobs), then it's probably to his benefit that he is gone.

    I would however agree with the idea that the antenna people have big chips on their shoulders. I'm not saying they never did anything right, but they think every one of them is better than nearly any person outside Reuben's group.

    So I don't know where Gruber gets his info, but going by what I've seen he's only right about half the time so I wouldn't get too wrapped up in what he says.

    Finally, I'll say this about the situation. I wouldn't read too much into this antenna stuff. There have been signs of trouble for a while. When the iPhone 4 was announced (before antennagate), you saw Bob Mansfield in the announcement but not Mark Papermaster. And no matter how much people outside the company may talk about the P.A. Semi group (which reported to Papermaster), virtually all the internal chip work was really stemming from Mansfield's group. I think it's likely Papermaster found his responsibilities had already been stripped away before the iPhone 4 launch, perhaps even before he showed up for his first day.

  • by line-bundle (235965) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @11:11PM (#33177756) Homepage Journal

    The publicity stunt of trying to equate their antenna problem with another (common) unrelated problem is clearly not working. And they know it.

    The RDF signal losing strength? Something about grip of death and stars pehaps?

  • Re:*gate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gazoogleheimer (1466831) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @11:17PM (#33177790) Homepage
    Yes, however the remarkable thing is that most of the people that now use the *gate terminology have no idea what Watergate was about.
  • by serbanp (139486) on Saturday August 07, 2010 @11:44PM (#33177918)

    maybe this conversation never happened. The design flaw is so blatant that it's very unlikely the engineers responsible for the RF section (including the antenna) would be so stupid. The whole fiasco smells of someone very high-up who brushed aside technical concerns for aesthetics. All we have to do is to wait for an insider to spill the beans...

  • I love the spin (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:08AM (#33178224)

    "He was the senior executive in charge of engineering for the iPhone 4..."

    And yet "and thus responsible in some unknown fashion for 'antennagate.'"

    Umm, he was the senior executive in charge of engineering for the iPhone 4, that means it was his goddamned responsibility to ship something that worked and if it didn't*, its his ass.

    That is the way it used to be in companies and at work, but for some reason when the "senior executive in charge of X" isn't responsible in the minds of many these days.

    Look at Deepwater Horizon, no one at Halliburton, BP or Transocean was publicly canned for that mess. The CEO of BP was demoted and sent off the Russia, but that wasn't a firing or a forced resignation.

    * - I'm not convinced antennagate is that big of an issue, I know six people with iPhone 4s and they are all happy with them, good PR nightmare and generates alot of pageviews though.

  • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:38AM (#33178334) Journal

    >There have been signs of trouble for a while.

    I still know a lot of people at Apple, and I hadn't heard any rumblings to the effect that Papermaster wasn't happy there, or that Apple wasn't satisfied with his performance. Of course, it's not like the man is going to find it hard to land another job.

    -jcr

  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:52AM (#33178392) Homepage

    I don't know what to believe and I don't have an iPhone to test. I just know that they did blame software at some point. I've lost track of whether that's part of the current explanation/excuse or if it's been superseded.

    It does seem that whatever it is, the problem is substantially worse than for other phones.

  • by tyrione (134248) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @01:56AM (#33178420) Homepage

    What is wrong with the quality of Windows 7?

    I haven't checked out Windows 7, but that Powershell crap they call terminal processes and shell scripting after having spent 20 years with various Ksh, Csh, Bash, Zsh, etc., I wanted to throw up when the most basic crap was like pulling teeth to mimic what I take for granted on UNIX systems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:07AM (#33178668)

    Jony puts the antenna on the outside. Then product design gets to try to make the best of it.

    The problem with the antenna is you can easily touch it. And Jony's aesthetic was that the antenna would be on the outside.

    You can say he should own even the antenna being on the outside, but if you do, you must never have tried to change the Jobs/Ive bloc's mind before. VP's don't get vetoes over Jobs' wishes. If he wants an antenna design that has inherent flaws in design (not just implementation) then he gets it. He is the boss.

    Overheating laptops.
    Less than usable mice (several times! the puck was just the beginning!)
    Power supplies with cords so thin they break.
    iPod shuffles that can't be used with 3rd party headphones because the design doesn't have any buttons on it.
    iPhones with recessed headphone jacks that can't work with 3rd party headphones.
    Mac Minis (and laptops, the first titaniums) with impaired wireless reception.

    These problems are not the products of a company that lets those who have practical concerns alter an industrial design selected by Ive/Jobs in the ways necessary to correct their flaws. And you can't blame it all on Papermaster.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @06:00AM (#33179140) Homepage Journal

    Alright, Bob - please elucidate. What exactly is an attenuation problem, if it's not related to the antenna? Where to all the dB come from? How are they "attenuated"? I'm not a real genius when it comes to radio propagation - but I've messed with a few radios. Some powerful, some not so powerful. Everything ALWAYS comes back to the antenna. I can hook up a 1000 watt kicker to a radio, and do nothing more than get some wires hot if I have a shitty antenna. With an exceptionally good antenna, I can take a cheap, nearly worthless citizen's band radio, and talk halfway across the country.

    Let's remember that your cell phone relies on radio waves, after all. I can put a variety of portable radio sets on a coffee table in an empty room, and have you walk around the radio. There will be points where the signal is "attenuated" as you walk past, and other points where the signal seems to be blocked as you walk by. It seems to me that Apple put THIS antenna exactly where the proximity of human flesh would damage reception the most.

  • by V!NCENT (1105021) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @06:15AM (#33179160)

    Wait a minute, wasn't Steve Jobs the guy who's alway testing it and sending it back and forth until he thinks it is OK?

    So if the antenna sucks, then why did Steve Jobs approve it then?

    I guess Steve was a bit angry and just took it out on the guy who designed the antenna. Good for him, though; now he can get a real Job.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:51AM (#33179454)

    Hahaha, nobody buys an iPhone for the phone. Are you stuck in the mid 90s?

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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