Apple's iPhone 4 fall guy

Mark Papermaster, the Apple big-wig who oversaw the phone's flawed hardware design, is out. Did "Antennagate" claim its first executive victim?

Was Mark Papermaster to blame for the iPhone 4's notorious hardware problems?
(Image credit: Getty)

Apple senior vice president Mark Papermaster, who oversaw hardware design of the problematic iPhone 4, has left the company — leading some to speculate that he's taking the fall for widely reported reception issues with the phone linked to its antenna design. Dubbed "Antennagate," the controversy overshadowed the iPhone 4's record sales, and led Apple to give away $175 million-worth of free phone cases — which effectively solved the problem — to satisfy disgruntled customers. Did this crisis provoke Papermaster's departure or was his long-standing "incompatibility" with Apple's business culture, as The Wall Street Journal suggests, the real trigger? (Watch Apple executives promote the iPhone 4)

There's more to this than Antennagate: Papermaster's alleged ousting "wasn't just about the iPhone 4's antenna," says Thomas Ricker in Engadget. Apple CEO Steve Jobs "knew about the risks of the antenna design as much as a year ago and it was his decision, not Papermaster's, to move forward with its development."

"WSJ: Apple lost confidence in Papermaster months ago; Jobs accepted iPhone 4 antenna risks"

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Still, Papermaster failed to fix the bug: Actually, an informed source tells me that the antenna bug was noted "two years ago," says John Gruber in Daring Fireball. "This is not a problem they... caught too late. So, on the one hand, clearly the fundamental antenna design predated Papermaster's time at the company [he was hired in November 2008]." But that just means there was "plenty of time to find a solution," which he evidently didn't do.

"Papermaster and that damn antenna"

This just fans the flames: By allegedly firing Papermaster, says MG Siegler in TechCrunch, Apple has brought Antennagate "back into the news, ensuring the story won’t die." Like the press conference Jobs held specifically to announce the phone-case giveaway, this only reinforces "the perception that something was indeed wrong with the iPhone 4 — the very message Apple was trying to counter."

"The iPhone 4 antenna issue won't die — because Apple won't let it"

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