The Apple logo sign on the San Francisco Apple store is turned off in memory of Steve Jobs on October 6, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Kevork Djansezian/GETTY IMAGES)

Apple watchers were surprised to see one of the company’s top leaders, Bob Mansfield, disappear from the list of its top executives over the weekend.

MacRumors was the first to report that the biographical information for the longtime executive, who came out of retirement to lead Apple’s technologies division last year, had been removed from the company’s Web site. In a statement to All Things Digital, the company said that Mansfield will remain with the company but will be working on “special projects,” reporting to Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

Mansfield was head of the company’s hardware engineering division when he announced in June 2012 that he would retire and pass the role on to Dan Riccio. But Mansfield, who has been with the company since 1999, didn’t get much time to kick back and relax. Apple announced last October, that the retiree would return to lead a new group that combined all of the firm’s wireless and semiconductor teams through at least 2014.

The New York Times recently reported that Mansfield’s work at Apple included development of a wearable device — possibly the much-rumored iWatch — reflecting his interest in creating smartphone accessories.

Mansfield’s return was part of a wider Apple executive shakeup that prompted the exit of two other Apple executives: retail head John Browett and Scott Forstall, who was in charge of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. That was one of Cook’s biggest moves as chief executive, which the company said was aimed at getting Apple teams to collaborate more across departments. Design control for hardware and software was put in the lap of Jony Ive, now senior vice president of design. The changes also put the teams for Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems under the same executive, Craig Federighi.

There’s no official word yet from Apple on what Mansfield will be working on from here on out — or any hint of how the company may fill or change the role of the technologies chief.

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