I've seen some consternation in certain corners of the Apple blogosphere over the last few days concerning the company's hiring of former Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch as its new VP of Technology reporting to SVP Bob Mansfield. During his time at Adobe, Lynch was a vocal proponent of Flash on mobile devices, and made a number of derogatory comments towards Apple's iPhone and iPad. Some bloggers argue that Lynch's fervent defense of Flash after its inadequacy had become apparent should disqualify him from employment at Apple. Others argue that the hire, much like last year's John Browett fiasco, indicates a lapse in Tim Cook's judgment.
To which I say, nonsense. It's possible the Lynch hiring may turn out to be a mistake. On the other hand, it's possible that he's exactly the right man to fill this particular position. We won't know until he's been in the role for some time, and while it's not unreasonable to have doubts, I see no reason to impugn the man's abilities or integrity. Yes, Lynch did support Flash long past the point at which doing so became foolish. He also worked for the company that makes and markets that particular technology. But are we in the Apple community going to hold that against him today? Is it so hard to believe that Lynch may have had a change of belief as he saw Flash on mobile decline? Are we going to dismiss such a change as invalid in order to continue fighting a war we've already won? Just as the Apple community needed to move past the notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft had to lose in the late 1990s, so too must we today get past the idea that someone who once vehemently opposed an Apple directive is incapable of making valuable contributions to Apple now.
Kevin Lynch will report to Bob Mansfield. He was hired to do a specific job based on a specific set of competencies. This is how people are supposed to be hired. Rather that declare him a heretic or a sleeper agent or a bozo, why don't we just wait and see? If he does a great job, then all of the worrying will be for nothing. If he doesn't, it wouldn't be the first time an Apple executive beat a hasty path toward the exit. (See: Papermaster, Mark)