Apple is losing its top Mac OS X executive just months before the computer giant is expected to release the next version of the PC operating system, dubbed Mac OS X Lion.
Apple announced March 23 that Bertrand Serlet, its senior vice president of Mac software engineering, is leaving the company. Taking his place will be Craig Federighi, currently Apple’s vice president of Mac software engineering and presumably the next in command under Serlet.
Apple didn’t say exactly when Serlet would be leaving, why he’s going or what new position he has lined up. In a statement, Serlet indicated that he’s looking to shift his focus.
“I’ve worked with [Apple CEO Steve Jobs] for 22 years and have had an incredible time developing products at both NeXT and Apple, but at this point, I want to focus less on products and more on science,” Serlet said in a statement.
Federighi has been responsible for the development of Mac OS X, Apple’s PC operating system, and has been managing the Mac OS software engineering group for the last two years. In October 2010, Apple gave an early look at Mac OS X Lion, along with its newest MacBook Air notebooks.
“Craig has done a great job managing the Mac OS team,” Serlet added. “Lion is a great release and the transition should be seamless.”
Apple in February released a developer preview of Lion, and expectations are the operating system will start shipping to consumers this summer.
Federighi will assume Serlet’s responsibilities and report to Jobs, Apple said in a statement. Jobs, however, has been on a leave of absence since January, and COO Tim Cook has been managing the company’s day-to-day operations. Jobs, a cancer survivor who in 2009 received a liver transplant, said in a January letter to the Apple community that he wanted to stay “out of the limelight” to better focus on his health. Neither he nor Apple has indicated when he will be back, though on March 2, Jobs interrupted his leave to introduce the iPad 2.
“We’ve been working on this product for a while and I just didn’t want to miss today,” he said, according to The New York Times.
According to Apple, Both Serlet and Federighi worked at NeXT, the computer company Jobs founded in 1985, after his forced resignation from Apple. In 1996, Apple proceeded to buy NeXT, and its OpenStep application-programming interface is said to be the foundation for the current Mac OS X.
Following NeXT, Federighi worked at Ariba, a provider of business-commerce solutions, as a vice president of Internet Services and chief technology officer, among other roles. In 2009, he returned to Apple to lead the engineering of Mac OS X.
The departure of the man responsible for Apple’s desktop OS comes as Apple’s focus is shifting toward iOS, the mobile operating system run by its iPhones and iPad tablets. Introducing Lion and the MacBook Air in October, Jobs explained that the company’s thinking had come full circle-that just as its desktop innovation had informed its mobile devices, the iPhone and iPad were informing its thinking about its notebooks.
“We’ve taken what we have learned with the iPad-solid-state storage, instant-on, amazing battery-standby time, miniaturization and lightweight construction-to create the new MacBook Air,” Jobs said in a statement at the time. “With its amazing responsiveness and mobility, it will change the way we think about notebooks.”
Federighi, Apple added, has Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.