Apple waves goodbye to US sales head and PR chief

Apple has replaced its head of North American sales, while its PR chief, Katie Cotton, retires after 18 years at the company.

Zane Rowe, who joined Apple in 2012 from United Continental, oversaw sales in the US and Canada. His departure comes just a few weeks after the arrival of Angela Ahrendts as head of retail and online stores. He will be replaced by Japan and Korea sales head Doug Beck.

The reason for Rowe's departure is unknown at this time. Apple rumours site 9to5mac points towards alleged disquiet about him not getting the recently vacant CFO job. Falling North American sales numbers have also been cited as a possible cause.

Cotton, who rarely made appearances on Apple's behalf, was described as the "gatekeeper" to co-founder Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook. She served as vice president of worldwide corporate communications, and has reportedly decided to move on to spend more time with her family.

Apple has seen quite a turnaround among its executives this year: vice president of human interface design Greg Christie and vice president of operations Rita Lane have also joined former CFO Peter Oppenheimer on the retirement list. Former vice president of technologies Bob Mansfield will transition into retirement later this year too, while vice president of iOS engineering Henri Lamiraux left last year.

The departures come at a time when Apple investors are becoming skittish about the company's lack of innovation, especially as it sits on around $158 billion (93 billion) in cash and cash equivalents.

Whether the iWatch or the much-rumoured Apple-branded televsion arrive this year, there seems to be something in the works at Cupertino. Apple has been increasing its research and development spending, according to analysts, with a 30 per cent increase year-on-year between 2012 and 2013.