iPhone4 antenna problems missed by the lack of situated knowledge?

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It seems that situated knowledge went missing at the iPhone4 development with a new manager for an old team.

Fortune is reporting that Mark  Papermaster the manager in-charge of the iPhone4 development is leaving Apple and will be replaced by classmate and old Apple hand Robert Mansfield. There is speculation that Papermaster's exit has to do with the highly  (for Apple ) uncharacteristic antenna problems of iPhone4.

Apple has been facing a great deal of criticism for the iPhone4 antenna problems and naturally the managers are being individually blamed. One can only speculate why the iPhone4 antenna problems were missed in development. Here are some initial thoughts and questions:

  • 2008 was the year that Papermaster was brought in from a different IBM culture.
  • Did existing folks at Apple really have a formal product use testing process? (A formal product use testing process can't really miss the antenna problem).
  • Or did they depend on the "informal" team work of people who had worked together for several years?
  • If the product use testing process was informal – did Papermaster miss out as he was only 2 years at Apple ?

The iPhone4 antenna problem is so uncharacteristic of Apple that the "why" question will continue to engage public interest for some time.

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