According to early reports, Mansfield is no longer on the company’s executive team, but will remain at Apple to work on special projects, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.
As for which projects Mansfield might be tackling in his more hands-on role at the company, the New York Times recently wrote that he was "engrossed" with wearable technologies like the Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up in the context of reporting on Apple's long-rumored smart watch plans.
If Mansfield's "special project" really is working on the so-called "iWatch," then that seems like pretty strong evidence that Apple hopes this to truly be a breakthrough product, not just another "hobby" like the Apple TV. A senior executive doesn't willingly relinquish his position without good reason. (I think we can be pretty confident this change is willing. Mansfield was retiring last year when Apple pulled him back. If they tried to do anything hostile to his position he would simply retire again, for good this time.)
With Mansfield now joining Paul Deneve, this "special projects" team is really looking like a group that could show us something amazing. I can't wait to see how Apple's finished iWatch turns out.