Apple has confirmed a member of its senior leadership team has stepped down in preparation for his retirement next year.
Bob Mansfield relinquished his role as senior vice president of technologies last week and will work on ‘special projects’ at the company in a role that means he’ll be reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.
“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,” company spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD.
The announcement has sent the Apple rumour mill into overdrive with speculation he could be working on any number of different projects, including a smart watch, an updated version of Apple TV, a low-cost iPhone, or even a large screen iPad.
Mansfield started at Apple in 1999 after the company bought Raycer Graphics, where he was vice president of engineering. Since 2005, he has been head of the Mac hardware team, responsible for iPhone and iPad hardware engineering since 2010, and head of the iPad hardware team since the integration of a tablet product line at Apple.
A smart watch is perhaps the most intriguing project of those rumoured and Mansfield’s link to the role is fuelled by the fact he is a known admirer of various wearables, like the Nike FuelBand and Jawbone up, according to the New York Times.
The 52-year-old was one of the highest paid employees at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies in 2012. Mansfield, second on the S&P 500 list, earned a total of $85.5 million (£55.5 million) with most of the amount in stock and a base salary of $805,400 (£526,200).
Cook confirmed Mansfield will be staying on until the end of 2014.