Feeds

IBM employee poaching suit hypes Apple

'The Powermaster must be stopped'

Boost IT visibility and business value

Mark Papermaster is a Power microprocessor God - a Powermaster, if you will - and must not enter Apple's paradise. He could make miracles happen there and screw IBM's competitive positioning.

That's the gist of an IBMer's filing in the IBM-Papermaster lawsuit in which IBM is trying to have Papermaster's move to Apple stopped.

Mark Papermaster is a long-term IBM staffer who was recently recruited by Apple for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (as he saw it) involving more or less taking charge of Apple's technical direction and advising Apple CEO Steve Jobs directly.

At IBM, he has worked for the last two years on its BladeCenter server line and before that had intimate knowledge of IBM's Power microprocessor architecture and technology. As the scope of his new position became clear, alarm bells went off at IBM as people there became convinced he was breaking the terms of a non-compete clause in his departure arrangements.

IBM sued him for breaking the non-compete agreement and filed various documents to support its case with a hearing scheduled for November 18th. Amongst these is one from Rodney Adkins, IBM's SVP for development and marketing in its Systems and Technology group where Papermaster worked. Adkins was Papermaster's mentor and ultimate boss.

His document says that IBM believes that Apple's employment of the Powermaster would cause it irreparable harm, place it at an extreme competitive disadvantage and cause it irreparable injury. It sounds almost hysterical.

We suppose this means Apple could develop better processors than IBM for servers, PCs, iPhones, and games consoles. Yes, Adkins mentioned games consoles.

Adkins says Papermaster is - was - IBM's top expert on the Power architecture. Apple bought Power microprocessor licensee P.A. Semi in April, and Papermaster is privy to more Power MPU secrets than P.A. Semi. The man is clearly a Power architecture God.

Adkins and IBM fear that Apple will use a Powermaster-boosted P.A. Semi unit to develop chips for Xserve servers, iMac desktops, MacBook notebooks, iPhones, and iPods that will compete with and beat IBM's System x and BladeCenter servers, Lenovo PCs, and IBM chips used in games consoles and iPhone competitors.

What IBM is saying is that Apple could throw out its Intel processors and substitute future P.A. Semi microprocessors using confidential IBM technical knowledge courtesy of Papermaster. These MPUs could then enable Apple to give IBM a good competitive thrashing.

The idea that Apple's Xserve line - an also-ran of an also-ran in the general server market, though much valued by its customers - could provide stiff competition to IBM's servers is almost risible. Adkins lets slip that IBM has a holding in Lenovo and even sells the odd PC so it can claim a boosted Mac could compete with X86 Lenovo PCs but really, are the Mac's prospects that good? Perhaps they are. Perhaps this filing is telling us to take Apple's prospects a whole lot more seriously.

The smartphone and intelligent handheld device areas look more serious from where we sit in terms of directly affecting IBM"s revenue prospects. There, Apple is doing amazingly well already.

What this filing tells us is that IBM has a terrific amount of respect for Apple's engineering smarts. IBM, capitalised at $104.7bn, thinks that Apple, capitalised at $79.3bn, could be even stronger competition, and that one man, this Powermaster, could make a huge difference to Apple's prospects. IBM wants to prevent this happening.

If the guy doesn't get the job at Apple, his CV has been boosted and general job prospects multiplied tenfold. Other people with experience of reporting direct to Steve Jobs might tell him that for IBM to succeed would be the best outcome. He'd get a better and more comfortable job than the one involving him reporting to the demanding Steve Jobs would ever be. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.