News that SVP Eddy Cue fired Richard Williamson, the executive who oversaw the development of Apple’s much-maligned mapping service, came out of nowhere and surprised even seasoned watchers.

But who exactly is this Williamson guy?

Not much is known of the executive. Apple didn’t list him on its Leadership page and he ain’t talking to the press. I did some good ol’ digging on the Interwebs and managed to compile a quick backgrounder on the (un)lucky software engineer, here’s what I found…

Prior to joining Apple twelve years ago, Williamson worked for Steve Jobs at his NeXT company for seven years, between 1987 and 1994. He left NeXT in 1995 to found Infoscape, where he worked as Vice President of Engineering through 1999.

The same year, Williamson joined Resonate as Senior Architect, a Silicon Valley-based startup founded in 1995 that made traffic management and load balancing solutions for enterprises.

Steve Jobs recruited him back in 2001 as Apple’s Senior Software Engineer. He spent four years working in that capacity before moving up the ladder, becoming a director of iOS Software in 2005 at a time when Apple was developing the iPhone.

He spent seven years at that position.

In January 2012, following Steve Jobs’s death and amid a quiet re-shuffling that was taking place at Apple, Tim Cook appointed Williamson the company’s Senior Director for iOS Platform Services.

He lasted eleven months on that job.

All of this has been sourced from Williamson’s public LinkedIn profile, which wasn’t updated at press time to remove his involvement with the iPhone maker.

Bloomberg first reported on Williamson’s firing.

AllThingsD was able to corroborate the report with its own sources.

Apple has not yet made public the information on Willamson’s departure and refused requests to comment.

It’s also worth noting that Williamson is credited with some interesting Apple patents, including the iOS soft keyboard and another one providing maps, directions and location-based information.

 

His name appears on a bunch of other filings for document editing on iOS devices, the iPhone simulation software, push-based location updating system, cut, copy and paste and many more.

The Bloomberg report also states that Apple is seeking “advice” from TomTom, a major mapping solutions company, on how to fix point-of-interest issues and other flawed data.

While firing of Scott Forstall and Richard Williamson should be interpreted as a normal development in the post-Jobs Apple, it’s worth pointing out that both men share a long past with Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs.

Each worked alongside Jobs at NeXT and both later joined Apple following a $427 million NeXT acquisition in 1996 that had brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded.

Tim Cook is his own man and he certainly ain’t kidding around.

You could also say that a pattern is emerging where Jobs’s trusted associates are being forced out.

Again, that’s nothing out of ordinary – Cook and his subordinates are entitled to let go those who they deem unsuitable for the many challenges Apple now faces.

What’s your read on Williamson’s ouster?