Apple picks IBM chip designer to head iPod, iPhone teams

— 5:00 PM on November 4, 2008

In a surprising management change, the Senior Vice President of Apple's iPod business has stepped down. According to the Google cache of Apple's official biography, Tony Fadell was the first member of the iPod hardware engineering team in 2001. He became VP of iPod engineering in 2004 and Senior VP of the whole iPod Division two years later.

CNet News reports that Apple has poached Mark Papermaster from IBM to take on Fadell's role and oversee both the iPod and iPhone hardware teams. CNet noted in an older report that Papermaster previously worked as IBM's VP of microprocessor technology development, and that IBM sued him to "prevent him from joining Apple and divulging trade secrets related to IBM's Power chips and server products." In the lawsuit, IBM called Papermaster its "top expert in Power architecture and technology."

Apple's official announcement doesn't make it clear why the iPod maker picked a big-shot chip designer for the job. However, Apple purchased chip design firm PA Semiconductor in April of this year, and in September, a former PA Semi staffer revealed in his LinkedIn profile that he had been managing the "ARM CPU architecture team for IPhone (sic)" since April. If Apple wants to develop the chips that drive the iPod and iPhone in-house, choosing someone like Papermaster to oversee development of the devices makes sense.

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