Bob Mansfield, the longtime Apple executive who retired last year only to return a few months later, is now leading special projects, and everyone's trying to figure out what happened.
"Bob is no longer going to be on Apple's executive team, but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to [CEO] Tim [Cook]," Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling told AllThingsD Sunday.
Apple, which saw iPad sales decline last quarter for the first time since launching the product in 2010, has apparently decided to put one of its top engineering executives in charge of coming up with new products.
Mansfield was senior vice president of hardware engineering before retiring from Apple last June. Mansfield, who joined Apple in 1999 when it acquired Raycer Graphics, had been in charge of Mac engineering since 2005 and iPad engineering since the product's inception.
After coming back in August, Mansfield was tapped to lead Apple's Technologies unit, which rolled all of the company's wireless teams, including its semiconductor team, into one group.
Network World, in a Monday opinion piece, suggested that Mansfield was demoted from his executive position due to Apple's reliance on arch-rival Samsung for key mobile device chips.
Bloomberg, quoting an unnamed source, reported Monday that Mansfield wanted to "focus on creating new products without the distractions of being on the executive committee."
Apple blogger John Gruber, author of the Daring Fireball blog, had a similar take. "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," he said in a Monday blog post.
Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.
MacRumors was first to notice the disappearance of Mansfield's bio from Apple's website on Sunday.
PUBLISHED JULY 30, 2013