Gruber: there’s nothing punitive with Bob Mansfield’s role change

iPhone 5 promo (Bob Mansfield 001)

Yesterday, a jarring change was discovered on Apple’s executive leadership page: the company’s SVP of Technologies Bob Mansfield had been completely removed. Apple later confirmed the news, saying that Bob would no longer be on Apple’s executive team.

And despite the fact that Apple said that he would stay on with the company to work on ‘special projects,’ the news was worrisome, as Mansfield has been crucial to Mac and iOS device success. But a new report claims there’s “nothing punitive” about the role change…

Well-connected Apple blogger John Gruber has the scoop:

“After asking around, word on the Cupertino street is that there’s nothing to read between the lines regarding Bob Mansfield no longer being on Apple’s executive team…

There’s nothing punitive with Mansfield’s role change, nor health problems or anything like that. Just a more focused role on certain new products. His un-retirement as a senior vice president last year was always intended to be transitional, not permanent… Outside the company, we were surprised Mansfield’s return as an SVP turned out to be temporary. Inside Apple, they seem surprised we’d read “backstage intrigue” into his de-listing from their executive ranks.”

Gruber says that there’s no euphemism in Apple’s statement yesterday, as there was in the one it gave regarding Scott Forstall’s ousting during last fall’s shakeup. “Mansfield is well-liked at all levels within the company and truly is working on special projects.”

What are these “special projects?” Who knows, but there has been a lot of speculation regarding his involvement in Apple’s ‘wearables’ devision. And a recent report described him as instrumental to the development of its long-rumored ‘iWatch’ smartwatch.

Mansfield first joined Apple in 1999, after it acquired his former employer Raycer. He retired as the company’s SVP of Hardware last year, but was quickly brought back on as ‘SVP of Technologies’ following complaints about his replacement by several engineers.

According to Bloomberg, Bob Mansfield made $85.5 million last year, making him one of the highest-paid U.S. executives of 2012.