Apple’s hardware team is getting its biggest shakeup in nearly a decade, as Dan Riccio — who served as the company’s senior vice president of hardware engineering since 2012 — transitions to “a new role” at the company. He’ll be replaced as Apple’s head hardware engineer by John Ternus, who led the hardware team designing the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, in addition to working on Apple’s M1 chips. Ternus has been vice president of hardware engineering at Apple since 2013.
The role of senior vice president of hardware engineering at Apple is a key one: the position reports directly to CEO Tim Cook, and is responsible for leading the Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod engineering teams. Ternus’ new role will put him in charge of the company’s hardware efforts, much in the same way that Craig Federighi — Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering — runs the development of iOS and macOS.
Riccio won’t be leaving Apple, though: he’ll be working on an unspecified “new project” for the company in a role directly reporting to Cook. “Next up, I’m looking forward to doing what I love most — focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about,” explains Riccio in Apple’s announcement.
If that language sounds familiar, it’s because it’s almost the exact same description that Apple provided for Riccio’s predecessor, Bob Mansfield, when he stepped down as SVP of hardware engineering in 2012. Like Riccio, Mansfield transitioned to “work on future projects” in an unnamed role that reported directly to Cook — which Bloomberg notes included leading Apple’s self-driving car team until December 2020, when Mansfield fully retired from Apple.
Apple’s future automotive ambitions are currently being led by artificial intelligence executive John Giannandrea. But following Mansfield’s departure, there would appear to be a vacancy in senior hardware engineers on that project.
Riccio’s move is the latest departure from Apple’s executive leadership team in recent years, following legendary product designer Jony Ive (who stepped down to form his own design firm, LoveFrom, in November 2019) and Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, who was replaced by Greg Joswiak in 2020 as Schiller refocused on running the App Store and Apple Events.