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Steve Jobs holding an iPhone

Mark Papermaster, the Apple executive in charge of development for the troublesome iPhone 4  left the company due to the infamous “Antennagate” smartphone reception issues. After a press conference last month in which Steve Jobs himself tried to explain the reception problem is minor and Antennagate is just an overly boosted occurrence, the piece of news highlighting Papermaster’s departure shows how big of an impact this technical problem actually had on the company and its customers.

Mark Papermaster, senior vice-president of devices hardware engineering, was responsible for the development of the iPhone 4 model, released on June 24. After reports of bad reception, Apple admited their formula for calculating signal strength was wrong and issued a software update to fix it. As the problem was not solved in the least and customer complaints and media criticism kept pouring in, Jobs called a press conference to tell everyone the phone was just fine, but a special case was going to be given away to customers experiencing this minor issue.

Papermaster actually leaving Apple shows how big the problem really was. We’re talking about a man Steve Jobs wanted in his team so badly, he actually put up with an IBM trial to get him. The initial announcement of Mark Papermaster leaving IBM and moving on to Apple was made in 2008, but the trial delayed the move until April 2009.

While I admit the iPhone 4 Antennagate scandal was a real issue for Apple, Papermaster half-hidden departure – no one knows as of yet when exactly he has stepped down in the middle of the reception issue craziness – feels a bit like looking for a scape goat and the head of development on this project fits the picture. Or maybe it shows Job’s praised executive just had it with Apple’s way of handling things?

The truth is development is just a part of the process. What about the testing team that was supposed to discover potential problems and bugs long before the launch? Moreover, we all know there are is no error free piece of hardware of software! The point is not to eliminate all errors, it is to know how to handle the situation when the problems show up. Telling the customers there’s nothing wrong with a phone clearly flawed is just bad customer care!

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