SVP of Technologies Bob Mansfield no longer on Leadership team, Apple confirms

Apple Leadership page (Bob Mansfield, SVP of Technologies)

Bob Mansifeld, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Technologies, has been removed from the company’s Leadership web page without explanation.

This is newsworthy because rarely does it slip Apple to pull corporate description of a high-ranked executive without announcing a leadership change beforehand.

Hopefully, Apple wouldn’t just take his description page down without an announcement so this could be some sort of a slip up, though the chances of that are very slim.

Update: a Reuters reporter has an official statement from Apple

Poormina Gupta is with Reuters and she got this from Apple on Mansfield:

AllThingsD also has the official confirmation.

“Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team, but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim,” company spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD.

He declined any further explanation, refusing to comment on the reasons behind Mansfield’s abrupt demotion or whether Apple plans to appoint a new SVP of technologies.

As first reported by MacRumors, Mansfield disappeared from Apple’s Leadership page in the past 24 hours with no explanation.

The image top of post is a snapshot of Apple’s Leadership page as of last November. Mansfield just-removed page can still be found in Google’s cache.

Prior to joining Apple, Mansfield served as Senior Director at SGI and Vice President of Engineering at Raycer Graphics. After Apple had acquired Raycer  in 1999, Mansfield joined the company.

Here’s what the Leadership page looked like at post time.

Apple Leadership (20130729)

The executive, who earned a BSEE degree from the University of Texas in 1982, had since filled various roles before working his way up the food chain to become Senior Vice President of Mac Hardware Engineering, in which capacity he oversaw teams that delivered such smash hits as Apple’s all-in-one iMac and the MacBook notebook.

Apple eventually upgraded his title to Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering to reflect his growing responsibilities. Among other things, Mansfield was charged with leading Mac hardware engineering since 2005, iPhone and iPod hardware engineering since 2010 and iPad hardware engineering since its inception.

August 2010 saw the executive take over the position of Devices Hardware Engineering that had been vacated following the departure of Mark Papermaster, a former IBM executive who didn’t quite fit in with the company’s demanded business style.

bob mansfield

On June 28, Apple announced Mansfield’s retirement so he could spend more time with his family.

His role would be transitioned to then Vice President of iPad Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio while the entire hardware engineering team would continue to report to Mansfield until his departure, Apple said at the time.

However, the unexpected announcement provoked an outrage as Tim Cook was reportedly faced with an “insurrection”, according to Bloomberg Businessweek:

According to three people familiar with the sequence of events, several senior engineers on Mansfield’s team vociferously complained to Cook about reporting to his replacement, Dan Riccio, who they felt was unprepared for the magnitude of the role.

So in response to the complaints, Apple on August 27, 2012 took the rare step of announcing that Mansfield would after all remain at Apple. “Mansfield will work on future products, reporting to Tim Cook,” the company noted.

iPhone 5 promo (Bob Mansfield 001)

Never has Apple revealed how long Mansfield intended to remain with the company.

It was subsequently speculated Cook lured the A-player back by offering him an exorbitant package of cash and stock worth around $2 million a month. The Apple CEO, the rumors said, privately wanted Mansfield to stay on at the company as an adviser through at least 2014 to help manage the hardware engineering team.

Apple has also never explained how Mansfield and Riccio (pictured below) were collaborating given the latter led Apple’s hardware engineering group, previously an exclusive domain of Mansfield’s.

Dan Riccio (Apple PR headshots)

Mere two months later, Cook again shook things up by firing longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall and appointing Mansfield to lead a new group called Technologies. It was later speculated that Forstall’s departure was a key reason for Mansfield’s unexpected un-retirement.

Little is known of Technologies group beyond what Apple said publicly, that this group combines all of its wireless and semiconductor teams across the company in one organization. The goal is, an Applepress release has it, to foster “innovation in this area at an even higher level”.

Tim Cook, Bob Mansfield and Kevin Lynch

Semiconductor teams, Apple cryptically said, have “ambitious plans for the future”.

According to multiple reports, Mansfield has developed a keen interest in wearable technology and is seen instrumental in the development of Apple’s rumored iWatch project. According to an interesting org chart by a reliable blogger Mark Gurman, Mansfield is apparently key to the Apple smartwatch project.

It’s also believed Mansfield has been given the freedom to pursue other interests at the company. For instance, Bloomberg wrote last November he’s been “overseeing Apple’s investigations into other chip alternatives”, paving the way to dropping Intel and adopting in-house designed ARM-based chips for MacBooks by 2017.

Apple engineers have grown confident that the chip designs used for its mobile devices will one day be powerful enough to run its desktops and laptops, said three people with knowledge of the work, who asked to remain anonymous because the plans are confidential.

Another interest of Mansfield’s: the shift “to make products thinner and smaller”.

All of which makes us wonder: if this just a slip-up by an overzealous web admin or has Mansfield’s role indeed changed? And if so, is he still with the company?

Apple could have some explaining to do in the coming days for Mansfield has been instrumental in Apple’s hardware push, which proved key for mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.

This guy sure has made a number of many great contributions over the years and losing him would be a shame.

What’s your read of the situation?