iPhone Design Chief Out At Apple

Company isn't saying whether Mark Papermaster's departure is related to Antenngate.
Mark Papermaster, a top engineer who bolted from IBM last year to take over Apple's iPhone engineering unit, is leaving Cupertino after just 15 months on the job.

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Mark Papermaster's exit comes two weeks after Apple was forced to start giving away free cases to iPhone 4 buyers to compensate for the device's finicky antenna.

Apple on Sunday said his duties will be assumed by Macintosh hardware senior VP Bob Mansfield.

The company did not state whether Papermaster's departure was related to the iPhone's problems. Apple on July 23rd released a downloadable app that allows iPhone 4 customers to get a free case, or "bumper," that's designed to protect the smartphone from the so-called "grip of death bug" that hinders antenna performance.

The app fulfills Apple CEO Steve Jobs' promise of a free case for all iPhone 4 buyers. Apple is also offering refunds to those who previously purchased the $29 wrapper. Apple has said the program could cost it up to $175 million.

The offer came in response to complaints that iPhone 4's signal falters if a certain part of its exterior antenna—on the lower, left corner of the device—comes into contact with the user's hand. The bumper works by insulating the smartphone from interference caused by human skin.

Papermaster's departure from IBM triggered a lawsuit in which Big Blue accused him of violating a non-compete agreement.

Under a settlement reached in January, 2009, Papermaster was to inform IBM if he suspected that any innovations he developed at Apple infringed on confidential or proprietary information he picked up during his years of work IBM.