Today: Apple (AAPL) keeps cleaning house in the department in charge of its mapping app while announcing launch of new iMac. Also: San Mateo's SolarCity will be first solar installer to go public, Wall Street dips.

Apple dismisses another exec in charge of maps

Apparently, ridding itself of one executive who oversaw its Maps app wasn't enough for Apple: The Cupertino company reportedly fired the worker who directly oversaw the troubled mobile offering just a month after dismissing his boss.

Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that Richard Williamson, an Apple veteran who worked for Steve Jobs at NeXT, the computer company the former Apple CEO founded in between his stints running the company he cofounded. Williamson shared a NeXT history with his former boss, Scott Forstall, the head of mobile software at Apple who was forced out in an executive shake-up after reportedly refusing to sign on to an apology for the app's issues.


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CEO Tim Cook ended up sending out an apology for Apple's Maps app, which replaced Google's (GOOG) popular app in the latest update of Apple's mobile operating system, to the chagrin of users. After Forstall was forced out, Apple design guru Eddy Cue was put in charge of the department, and was the executive who axed Williamson, anonymous sources told Bloomberg. The firing took place just before the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AllThingsD.

Cue will replace Williamson in an effort to put his own leadership team in charge of mobile software while attempting to fix the maps on the fly, Bloomberg reported.

Meanwhile, Apple continues to work on pushing out the new products it announced last month. With the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPads released, next up are the company's all-in-one desktop models, the iMacs.

Apple announced Tuesday morning that the smaller iMac, which it originally said would be released in November, will make that deadline by a whisker when it is released on Friday, the last day of the month.

The 21.5-inch iMac will start at $1,299 and feature the company's new Fusion Drive, which combines a flash drive and standard hard drive. The larger, 27-inch version of the iMac, with a cost starting at $1,799, is still on schedule for a December release, according to Apple's news release, but there was no guarantee that it would be out in time for holiday shoppers, which could put a small dent in Apple's quarterly revenues.

The by-the-skin-of-their-teeth release of the new iMac is unlikely to quiet the chatter about concerns in Apple's production pipeline, which kept the company from meeting initial demand for the newest iteration of its popular smartphone, the iPhone 5. The production issues, along with Forstall's dismissal, declining market share in tablets and consumer and analyst displeasure with the new iPads caused Apple stock to tumble into "bear market" territory after the release of its latest iPhone, which pushed Apple to a record price.

Apple has rebounded of late, however, pushing its U.S.-leading market capitalization -- the total value of all shares in a company -- back above $550 billion. Shares dipped slightly Tuesday, losing 0.8 percent to close at $584.78. While the stock has increased 10.8 percent in the past week and a half, it is still 17.1 percent lower than the peak of $705.07 reached on the day of the iPhone 5 launch.

SolarCity files for first IPO by solar installer

San Mateo's Solar City filed for an initial public offering Tuesday that would make it the first solar installer to go public in the United States, with the Elon Musk-backed company looking to pull in as much as $151 million.

The amount SolarCity aims to raise is less than previously stated -- the company was looking for more than $200 million -- but it would still provide a valuation of about $1.2 billion at the midpoint of the suggested range for IPO shares, which the company's filing states is $13 to $15.

It's a tough time for the solar industry in general -- Solar PV Market Research founder Paula Mints told Mercury News reporter Dana Hull on Tuesday that the industry is "in turmoil." However, most of that turmoil is caused by the sharp drop in prices for solar panels, an issue that benefits SolarCity by bringing its costs down.

"Every solar module seller is desperate to find any possible buyer out there, and module prices are crashing, which benefits Solar City. If Solar City's IPO is even moderately successful, a strong balance sheet could significantly help their leasing business," National Securities alternative energy analyst Ramesh Misra said.

Musk, the PayPal veteran who founded and leads Palo Alto electric-car company Tesla, is the chairman and largest stockholder in SolarCity, which was founded by his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive. The Rives still run the company -- Lyndon is CEO and Peter is CTO.

Solar panel manufacturers received a boost on Wall Street after the news hit Tuesday, with San Jose's SunPower (SPWRA) rising 5.9 percent and First Solar gaining 3.8 percent.

Stocks dip after tech's strong gains on big shopping days

With the excitement of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, both of which saw strong gains in tech stocks, behind them, Wall Street investors treaded water for most of Tuesday before sending indexes down slightly. While economic reports showed the United States is still steadily gaining, the fear of the upcoming "fiscal cliff" hurt stocks, with the three major U.S. indexes all falling.

While Advanced Micro Devices CEO Rory Read saw hope in personal computer sales during the holiday shopping kickoff, PC industry stocks were mixed. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) fell 2.8 percent as Autonomy founder Mike Lynch challenged the Palo Alto tech giant in a letter to prove its assertions of accounting malfeasance at its big-money acquisition, to which HP basically replied, "We'll do that in court."

Microsoft dropped 1.1 percent despite announcing solid sales for Windows 8, while chip companies managed meager gains, with AMD increasing 0.5 percent and Intel (INTC) bumping up 0.2 percent.

Facebook continued to post gains, increasing 0.8 percent as it looks to a user vote on its new privacy policy, while Yahoo (YHOO) also gained on top of watershed marks reached Monday, increasing 0.9 percent. On the negative side, Gilead dropped 1.1 percent despite more good news about its hepatitis C medication, and eBay (EBAY) decreased 0.5 percent despite verification of its Cyber Monday success.

Silicon Valley tech stocks

Up: Yelp, SunPower, Workday, Juniper, Google, Netflix (NFLX), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Yahoo, Oracle (ORCL), Facebook, AMD

Down: HP, Jive, Zynga, Symantec, LinkedIn, Gilead, Applied Materials, VMware, Apple

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 8.99, or 0.3 percent, to 2,967.79

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 89.24, or 0.69 percent, to 12,878.13

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Down 7.35, or 0.52 percent, to 1,398.94

Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.