Officially, as far as Apple is concerned, there is no such thing as Antennagate. It might not be quite the same story internally. The New York Times reports that Mark Papermaster, Apple's SVP of devices hardware engineering, is no longer part of the Apple family. A fact Apple has now confirmed to be true.
Normally, this wouldn't be much of a story. After all, Papermaster has only been around for just a little over a year now. First hired to replace Tony Faddell in 2008, Papermaster was sued in Federal court by his former employer, IBM. IBM sued, to prevent him from working at Apple before April 2009, citing the non-compete clause of his IBM employment contract. Knowing the Apple environment, and Steve's temper, he just might not have been a good fit. But, also knowing he was the technical person in charge of the iPhone 4 antenna, makes this look pretty ugly. Apple had been testing the new external antenna design for over two years, so he's not the only one to blame. Yet, at some point, he's probably the person who gave the antenna design the green light for implementation. Is this what got him in trouble? We don't know.
The New York Times doesn't even know whether he actually left or got fired. However, the usually very well informed John Gruber, reports that it's pretty clear that he was fired. Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of Macintosh hardware engineering, will be replacing him for now.
Are we reading too much into this? You must admit, it's really bad timing. What do you think?