"Special projects" is either a robust, top-secret Apple division or a place where those who've served out their usefulness wait out retirement.
Let's assume it's the former, and that Bob Mansfield will now be working on something truly special...say, the iWatch?
The senior vice president of Technologies abruptly disappeared from the company's executive page over the weekend, a deletion first spotted by MacRumors. Apple confirmed to AllThingsD that Mansfield no longer had a seat at the executive table, but that he "will remain at Apple to work on special projects reporting to [CEO Tim Cook]."
Mansfield was supposed to retire last year, but it was announced a few months later that he would return for two years to head Technologies. The division includes all of Apple's semiconductor crews as well as wireless teams.
Time to check your iWatch
Apple was short on other specifics, such as if Mansfield still plans on retiring after next year, if he's still SVP of Technologies or if someone else is taking over that position.
But let's focus on what we do know, however limited: Mansfield is said to have an interest in wearable tech, as cited by a New York Times' report from February. An Apple employee noted Mansfield has been "particularly interested in wearables," and is "engrossed by devices that connect to the iPhone, through Bluetooth, sharing information back and forth from the human body to the phone, including the Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up."
Mansfield is credited with overseeing some of the company's "most challenging engineering projects," in Cook's words, and his apparent interest in wearable, bio-minded tech places him almost perfectly heading or at least participating in the iWatch project.
Former Yves San Laurent CEO Paul Deneve was recently brought on board as a vice president to work on special projects, and Apple also picked up former Amazon CTO Kevin Lynch to work underneath Mansfield.
Nothing is clear yet, but perhaps Mansfield is the final piece to the iWatch dream team? Time will certainly tell.