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Papermaster's Departure Linked to 'Cultural Incompatibility' Rather Than Antenna Issues


The Wall Street Journal provides some additional color on the departure of Apple's iPhone hardware engineering chief Mark Papermaster, citing "broader cultural incompatibility" rather than a direct link to the iPhone 4's antenna issues as reason for his exit.

Exactly how much the problems with the iPhone 4 played in Mr. Papermaster's exit is unclear. The iPhone 4, a key device for Apple, has been beset by issues such as antenna reception and delayed production of a white version of the gadget. Several people familiar with Mr. Papermaster's situation said his departure was driven by a broader cultural incompatibility.

Mr. Papermaster had lost the confidence of Mr. Jobs months ago and hasn't been part of the decision-making process for some time, these people said. They added that Mr. Papermaster didn't appear to have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple and wasn't used to Apple's corporate culture, where even senior executives are expected to keep on top of the smallest details of their areas of responsibility and often have to handle many tasks directly, as opposed to delegating them.

One of these people also said Mr. Papermaster had difficulty maneuvering Apple's internal politics.

Neither Papermaster nor Apple have yet offered any details on the circumstances behind his departure.

The report notes that it was Jobs who pressed forward with the iPhone 4's antenna design despite questions about its performance, suggesting that perhaps Papermaster does not bear as much blame as many have thought. In addition, Apple has claimed that the antenna design was in testing for two years prior to the launch of the iPhone 4, meaning that it had been designed and subjected to significant testing even before Papermaster officially joined the company in April 2009.