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It's not quite as earth-shattering as a $1 billion dollar court decision in its favor, but Apple yesterday announced a couple of important promotions to its executive management team. Craig Federighi, vice president of Mac software engineering, and Dan Riccio, vice president of hardware engineering, were each given a bump to senior status, which instantly anoints them as members of Apple's coveted executive management team.
Both Federighi and Riccio had already been promised the positions when their predecessors--Bertrand Serlet (March 2011) and Bob Mansfield (June 2012), respectively--announced their departure.
After leaving the company in 1999 for software and information technology services provider Ariba, Federighi returned to Apple to lead the OS X engineering team and oversee the releases of Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion (which just so happened to be the most successful OS X launch in the company's history). He's been a staple of WWDC keynotes under Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, and has spearheaded OS X's move away from DVDs and toward tighter integration with iOS.
Riccio is less of a public face than Federighi but no less impactful. He has been with Apple since 1998 as vice president of product design and helped shape a number of Apple's iconic products, most notable a little device known as the iPad. As Apple says, Riccio "was instrumental in all of Apple's iPad products since the first generation," and in recognition of his impact, Riccio was "transitioned" to his new title back when Mansfield announced his retirement.
Speaking of Mansfield, Apple also announced yesterday that the former VP, who brought his vision to the MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad, would be staying with the Cupertino giant to add his expertise to "future products." It's not so strange that Cook would want to keep someone like Mansfield around at this critical juncture, but it's a bit surprising that Mansfield agreed to stay. It's equally confusing that Apple now technically has two senior vice presidents of hardware engineering (though it can never have enough smarts in that department).
So what does all this mean? Probably not a whole lot for Apple's day-to-day operations or even its longterm vision. Mainly, it's a bit of housecleaning for Cook, a little reward for hard work and success. But whenever two iPad gurus and an OS X visionary get some extra recognition, we have to wonder if there's something extra-special in the pipeline.