Tevanian Should Resign

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(With no apologies whatsoever to The Seattle Times.)

Computer executives are recruited and retained for their judgment and credibility. Apple's chief technology officer Avie Tevanian fails CEO Steve Jobs in both areas and should resign.

Tevanian's poor judgment in handling the scandalous security hole in Mac OS X's URL protocol handlers destroyed his credibility with stockholders and contributes to the erosion of Apple's standing among consumers.

Marketing director Phil Schiller acknowledged as much Friday. Schiller said Apple failed to recognize how important the bug report was. That failure goes beyond the single report to the image and values of Apple and its products.

Tevanian's departure would not be about appeasement of anti-Apple critics or a failure to manage public relations. Tevanian sits atop a chain of command that suffered a grievous breakdown in a key element of the troubled Mac OS X: focus on security.

These holes should have been all the more controlled because they are leftover from the "Classic" Mac OS. Everyone, from the employees in documentation to the highest echelons of the 1 Infinite Loop, was amazingly tone deaf to the troubling holes -- holes that were known as early as February.

Central to the way a computer company does business is its authority over -- and responsibility for -- software behavior. Condemning the exploits in the URL protocol handlers is specific to that place and time, and not a rebuke of Apple or Mac OS X itself.

But these holes carry a terrible price, and that is the effect they impose on Apple's employees, stockholders, and users. Too many others will face greater derision and deeper suspicion because of what happened.

Ultimately, the responsibility falls on the chief technology officer for those working for him. For the mishandling of this security hole in Mac OS X, Tevanian should resign.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on May 26, 2004 9:04 AM.

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