Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware engineering at Apple, retired on Thursday.It’s pretty hard to overstate how important Mansfield was to the company from a technical standpoint. He had been with Apple since 1999 and led hardware engineering for the iPhone, iPod, and the Mac. His biggest accomplishment was probably the iPad.
But when Mansfield left, leaving Riccio to take over, Apple might have lost something else, Quora user Brian Roemmele writes: someone who could wrangle both Apple’s design genius Jony Ive and the demands of former CEO Steve Jobs (now Tim Cook) into a single, working, reliable product.
This still seems like a little bit of speculation, but it’s one of the top-voted responses on Quora.
Now Apple’s Dan Riccio, Apple’s vice president of iPad Hardware Engineering, has replaced Mansfield — and he’ll have to deal with both Ive and Apple CEO TIm Cook.
He’ll have his work cut out for him. But we’ve heard from sources familiar with him that he’s loyal and even keeled — though a little quirky and quiet, like any other geek.
Here’s the full response on Quora. It’s definitely worth a read:
If the classic era of Apple from 2001 through 2012 was cast as Star Trek, then Bob Mansfield would be Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the cantankerous Scottish engineer of the USS Enterprise. Steve Jobs would of course be James Tiberius “Jim” Kirk and Jonathan Ive would be Dr. Leonard H. (Bones) McCoy (with some Spock thrown in from the time Spock gave him his brain).
Bob Mansfield’s job was cut out for him. He had to stand in the middle of the genius of Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive. This in my view was nearly an impossible task. One can imagine Bob sitting in on conversations between Jonny and Steve, you can just hear:
Scotty: I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!
James T. Kirk: All she’s got isn’t good enough! What else ya got?
Quite seriously Bob’s importance to Apple is incalculable. He possessed the rare combination of engineering genius with the ability to navigate the two greatest design geniuses of our era. The ability to translate into hardware the dreams of Steve and the design requirements of Jony puts Bob in to a category of his own. He engineered out solutions that must have seemed nearly impossible.
I think this really sums up Bob’s challenges:
“Scotty: Do you mind a little advice? Starfleet captains are like children. They want everything right now and they want it their way. But the secret is to give them only what they need, not what they want.”
Deep inside of the devices most of us use everyday, Silently and perhaps most unnoticed motoring along are the designs of Bob. All of us take this for granted but Apple’s products, by far have the highest degree of reliability when compared to just about any other computer or device in the market. This is no accident, this is great engineering. It all just works, much because of Bob.
Nothing will ever replace the 3 geniuses that gave us the Mac and iOS device universe. At this point only Jony is left from the core triumvirate. Bob’s replacement will no doubt go on to do great work. But Apple is changing to the next generation with Tim Cook as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. They will be travelling in some new uncharted territory. However I am certain all of us miss Scotty and the journeys they have taken us on.