Apple's Papermaster saga offers a peek at Cupertino's inner workings.


The drama surrounding Apple's attempt to woo away chip guru Mark Papermaster from IBM is entering rockier legal waters, with a judge in the legal case forbidding Papermaster to begin work at Apple, for the moment. But because legal struggles involve discovery on the part of the legal brains, and because the material so discovered enters the public record, this IBM-Apple battle has shed some light on how things work inside the Cupertino compound.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing is that Papermaster claims that he'd have nothing to do with the P.A. Semiconductor folks in his new gig as iPod/iPhone product manager. This may seem strange -- the P.A. buy would seem to obviously be about Apple's handheld gadgets and not its computers -- but the filing notes say that Apple gets those chips from an outside vendor, and Papermaster declared that "it is also my understanding that I will not be responsible for developing the microprocessors that are used in the iPod and iPhone products, but rather those will be procured from sources outside my group." The P.A. folks are actually under the hardware group within Apple. All in all, it's a puzzling way to silo things, unless there are much, much bigger plans for Apple's internal semiconductor business.

As a side note, the guy Papermaster is replacing, Tony Fadell, is leaving under possibly cloudy circumstances. Perhaps IBM could have taken some tips on Apple on how to keep folks from joining other companies, though: Fadell got a cushy deal that didn't involve a (perhaps unenforceable) non-compete but did bring him millions in stock (vested in 2010) and rules against poaching Apple employees for some kind of iPod-killing startup.

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