By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
October 3, 2012

FORTUNE — Anybody who follows Apple (AAPL) with more than passing interest couldn’t help but wonder what was behind the surprise retirement in June and sudden reinstatement two months later of Bob Mansfield, the company’s long-time senior vice president of hardware engineering. (See Early retirement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.)

A well-reported feature story in
Bloomberg Businessweek
pegged to the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death doesn’t shed any light on why Mansfield wanted to leave, but it does seem to have the goods on why he came back:

Earlier this summer, [CEO Tim Cook lost] a key member of his team—and then nearly witnessed an insurrection in one of Apple’s most prominent divisions. On June 28, Apple announced the retirement of Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield, who for over a decade oversaw the remarkable expansion of the Macintosh line before taking on the iPhone and iPad as well. 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. In response, Cook approached Mansfield and offered him an exorbitant package of cash and stock worth around $2 million a month to stay on at Apple as an adviser and help manage the hardware engineering team.

That’s probably the most newsworthy nugget in the Businessweek story. Veteran Apple reporters Brad Stone, Adam Satariano and Peter Burrows interviewed more than two dozen current and former Apple executives, employees and partners and concluded that Apple is a happier and somewhat more transparent place under Cook.

“No one would say Apple is better off without Steve Jobs,” they write. “But to a surprising degree, it’s doing fine.”

Among the other revelations:

  • There’s more office politics at Apple now, and some concern that Jobs’s departure and the arrival of thousands of new employees will dilute the culture.
  • It was Jobs who initiated the much-maligned Apple Maps project, putting Scott Forstall in charge and installing a secret team on the third floor of Building 2 on Apple’s campus to replace Google Maps.
  • Jobs also considered pulling Google search from the iPhone, but feared customers would revolt.
  • Apple plans to spend $1 billion this year researching next-generation laser-cutting technologies that can create thinner, lighter devices.
  • The company is also spending heavily on chip design and has considered moving away from Intel chips in the Macintosh.

It’s a good read. You can get it here.

You May Like