Meet the Apple Executive Who's Secretly Working on Its Next Major Product

Business Insider
Analyzing the top news stories across the web
July 29 2013 12:00 PM

The $85 Million Apple Executive Who's Secretly Working on Its Next Major Product

143980804
Apple's next big thing may be wearable technology.

Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

This post previously appeared on Business Insider.

By Jay Yarow

Advertisement

Yesterday, Apple executive Bob Mansfield vanished from the company's page listing its top executives.

"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 spokesman Steve Dowling told All Things D.

It's just the latest twist for Mansfield, who has one of the most intriguing stories at Apple in the last year. Mansfield was appointed Senior Vice President of Technologies, a new group working on wireless technologies, last fall. Prior to that, he was SVP of hardware engineering, where he oversaw development of the iPhone and iPad. In June of 2012, Apple put out a press release saying Mansfield was retiring. Two months later, he un-retired, deciding to stay at Apple for two more years. 

When Mansfield's retirement was announced, CEO Tim Cook reportedly almost faced an insurrection. The people working in the hardware engineering division did not believe Mansfield's replacement, Dan Ricci, was ready to take over. CEO Tim Cook talked Mansfield into staying by offering him a big pay package, a new role, and by firing someone Mansfield didn't like. Mansfield's total compensation last year made him the second highest-compensated executive on the S&P 500.  He got $85.5 million, almost all of it in stock, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

In addition to the money, Cook may have put Mansfield in charge of the most exciting new project at Apple since the iPhone. Mansfield is reportedly overseeing development of the iWatch, Apple's next major product. 

Mansfield may have been less enthusiastic about developing the iWatch if Cook hadn't fired Scott Forstall last October. Forstall was the executive who led the iPhone and iPad software group. He was a polarizing figure inside Apple. While he did a lot of incredible work for the company, he was also despised by other executives for being a bit of a jerk. Mansfield reportedly couldn't stand to be in the same room as Forstall. 

Our speculation is that development of the iWatch would have been the kind of job that required close collaboration between Forstall and Mansfield. After all, Mansfield led the development of mobile hardware and Forstall led development of mobile software. We're guessing Cook's decision to let Forstall go made Mansfield more enthusiastic about staying to create Apple's next blockbuster product.

So why did Mansfield's bio disappear from Apple's executive page? He probably spent the last year as an executive leading the transition of the hardware engineering group. He's probably done with that, and focusing only on the iWatch. Plus, Apple is Apple, and it likes mystery and secrets.

If Mansfield is overseeing the iWatch, and iWatch proves to be the next major product for Apple,  the retention of Mansfield may ultimately prove to be the best thing Cook does in his first year as full-time CEO of Apple. Apple's success comes from creating industry-defining new product categories and owning them for years. It's been almost four years since the iPad. If the company is going to get its mojo back, it needs a breakout product. Perhaps iWatch will be that product.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.