Scott Forstall, the deposed iOS chief, has been a divisive figure inside Apple. His exit from Apple is likely to have an impact on the company’s stock price when the markets re-open. How are Apple insiders feeling about his exit? I asked a few of my sources.


Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, put his stamp on the Cupertino, Calif-based iPhone maker Monday and shook up his management team. That meant promotions for some and exits for others. While executive changes are as routine as replacing shoe insoles at other companies, at Apple they are stock-influencing moves, especially since one of the executives was widely (and incorrectly) viewed as a CEO candidate.

And since we are talking about Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS and someone who had worked with late Steve Jobs since NeXT, the news is getting dissected in countless ways.

A lot has already been reported — the New York Times has a fairly good summary and behind-the-scenes color. John Gruber’s analysis of the situation can be summed up in two words: Ive Up. And Gdgt’s take is pretty spot on. Now here is what my sources deep within Apple are telling me.

  • There has been a lot of talk about Scott Forstall being asked to sign an apology letter for the Apple Maps debacle. He refused. None of my sources were able to confirm this bit of news, though The New York Times reported that is indeed the case.
  • Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups. Or as one of my sources quipped: there are a lot of people going for celebratory drinks, even if there is a little bit of doubt about their roles in the future.
  • While the now-rescinded resignation of Bob Mansfield was masterfully planned, my sources say that Forstall’s exit was fairly last minute and not something he initiated. Many within the iOS and OS X teams only heard about it minutes after the news went out. Engineers were caught off guard, a source told me.
  • Many feel that Craig Federighi, who is taking over Forstall’s job in addition to overseeing the Mac OS X software business, is someone who needs to prove himself. He is not as decisive and divisive as Forstall.
  • There is a sense of excitement around Jony Ive taking over as head of the newly created human interface group. The reason for the excitement: hope for a new design direction for many software products. Most think Eddy Cue taking over Siri and Maps is a smart and natural thing to do.
  • According to my sources, there have been fissures in the management team for a while. Steve Jobs and Forstall were close, but none of the executives really cared for the deposed iOS chief. He really built a reputation by executing on Steve’s vision and acting as Steve’s mouthpiece.
  • Forstall had less-than-pleasant relationships with many senior executives, including Cue and Mansfield. My sources confirm what the Times reported earlier – Ive and Forstall had a rocky relationship .

Schedule-driven follies

In conversations, I learned about something that is troubling from a long-term point of view. Unlike in the Jobs era, when the company would ship features when they were ready for primetime, a culture of schedule-driven releases has become commonplace.

The time-based schedule is one of the reasons why Siri and Maps arrived as half-baked products and were met with derision. Many engineers inside Apple could foresee problems with Maps. Why? Because Maps were driven by a time schedule.

Maps and Siri are complex products whose dependencies (for the lack of a better word) go deep into different parts of the phone and even the network. The schedule-driven release culture makes folks less daring — why take arrows in your back for failing to deliver a radical new feature on a pre-dictated time? If this cultural warp continues, Apple might have a bigger headache on its hands. Ive’s appointment as the Human Interface honcho means that more risk-taking needs to come into the products. Ironically, the news that should garner more attention has flown under the radar.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

In other words, Apple understands that in our cloud-centric connected future, the company needs to not only care about the “human interface” and the “industrial design” but that all of those pieces have to work seamlessly with the guts and nerves of digital devices — chips and the networking technologies. With Cue, Ive and Mansfield, Cook has ensured that Apple is putting its best foot forward. Forstall is no longer part of this future.

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  1. so who are the people in the photos?

    1. You see Nothing happened.

      Oh! these people are fucking insane………….

    2. First and third pic are of CEO Tim Cook while the second is Scott Forstall.

  2. Shameer Mulji Monday, October 29, 2012

    “Unlike the Jobs era, when the company would ship features when they were ready for primetime, a culture of schedule-driven releases has become common place.”

    That seems to be common place now – Look at MS & Google. They’re all on annual release cycles. This is not necessarily a bad thing. When it’s time to ship a major feature, you ship it. In between time you iterate and improve.

    1. The problem is that in dedicating so many resources to major efforts, there is little time to iterate and improve.

      1. You have a point. Apple is one of the top choices for places to work plus they boat loads of cash. They shouldn’t have a problem finding the right people.

      2. @Shameer Mulji:
        They shouldn’t have a problem finding the right people.

        It doesn’t matter what people you have if a calendar is making the decisions.

  3. Why do I need Apple maps when Waze is so brilliant?

    1. Agreed. They should just buy Waze outright.

  4. so, Tim Cook, the supply genius, is having iPhone supply problems. Apple problem there too.

    1. This sort of griping about supply issues totally misunderstands the scale of the Apple’s task.

      Show me a single other company that even needs to have 5 – 10,000,000 units of a complex product ready to go on product release day, let alone does this on an annual release cycle, and does it with such complex materials.

      In terms of material supply, supply chain, manufacture and delivery what Apple does is unique – I’m amazed that they pull it off each year.

    2. The iPhone problem is caused by high demand and by the fact that it is a bit more complicated to manufactured, with a lot of technical changes being implemented for the first time. These will be resolved with time and may have been by now.

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      1. Seconded Sri stop taking the piss or your acount will be deleted

  6. What a great time to release the news. I wonder if it was timed this way. Bury big news from Microsoft and Google and the Market can’t react negatively because it is closed for two days because of Hurricane Sandy. By the time the market reopens the Apple faithful will have spun this as a great thing. If this was planned Tim Cook is brilliant.

    1. What this shows sir, is that Tim Cook did not act impetuously or reactivel and summarily dismiss these guys on day one of their screw ups. A good CEO gets a plan and players in place first. Certainly you aren’t suggesting that Cook was waiting for a natural disaster of historical dimensions (for Christ’s sake, NYC and other eastern seaboard cities shut down their subways, not to mention the NYSE shutting down).

      Give the man credit for making important executive decisions, and signaling to the world that Apple is no longer a one-man company. If this doesn’t inspire shareholders, then they’re complete fools. Apple is here to stay, with a new legacy. I gained more respect for Tim Cook today than I ever could have otherwise, because I firmly believed that this was essential for him to do.

      1. The Google and Microsoft announcements were on the calendar though. Those he could have planned for. Steal some thunder and word space from MS and Google. I wasn’t suggesting he was waiting for a natural disaster but maybe he just used it to his advantage.

    2. I agree. Apple is behind Hurricane Sandy. With so much cash in the bank, they know how to manipulate the weather in situations like this.

  7. once again, the only major complaints on maps came from a lazy tech press regurgitating two stories a thousand times before any customers had them in their hands. For me, in the US, Apples new Maps has worked perfectly and as advertised. Even perennial Apple basher Consumer Reports has as said it is comparable to Google maps in performance. 200 million people have upgraded to iOS according to Apple, yet if maps was as bad as the last echo chamber press says it is, why aren’t there lines of people returning the iPhones? The press wanted to make a story out of nothing, as they did with attenagate.

    1. look – I live in Italy (one of their biggest customers in the eu) and the maps app suck! most towns are not where they really are, some satellite pics are black/white, and if i search for “pizza” only three restaurants pop up on the map – my town has more than 60 of them.. it’s a crap app!

      1. Who gives a S(*t about Italy?

        Answer: no one.

      2. Robert M: typical of the stupid #### who forgets the US economy is just over 20% of the world economy. Sould Apple give a S(*t about the other 80%? Should the 80% give a S(*t about Apple? At the moment the answer to both is undoubtedly yes, but give it twenty years or so, and people like you keeping the same attitude, and who knows?

    2. Come on. I upgraded to IOS 6 and Maps is a disaster. If you’re experience is different, I’m glad for you, but you would seem to be the exception, not the rule.

      1. In your head works fine for most non tech people, its Antenna gate, all over again wait until the iPad Mini comes out there will one or two non issues blogged all over the net.

    3. Here’s what I have gotten from press reporting on Apple Maps. Tom Tom routing in some major metro areas is working ok. But that it is by no means universally on par with Google Maps. Where the real problem happens is in points of interest. There is simply no depth of location information.
      Yelp helps with some POIs. But tying routing to location searches in Apple Maps does not meet current standards.

  8. Adriano Geletes Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    “The time-based schedule is one of the reasons why Siri and Maps arrived as half-baked products and were met with derision.” Never was a software fully-baked! There are always improvements over time.

  9. Quoting John Gruber doesn’t make a lot of sense. Gruber is a Jonny-come-lately (in other words, where was Gruber during the NeXT era? He doesn’t grok the NeXT facets of Apple which touch both Forstall and Federighi). The Apple acquisition of NeXT really was more of a reverse merger (NeXT acquired Apple), but with Forstall gone, Steve passed away, Avie Tevanian retired and Bertrand Serlet onto new endeavors, what we’re likely seeing here is some culture shifting under Cook. Does Ive really get software enough in order to charge into the UI space? Or maybe he does and wouldn’t it be cool if Ive looked back at some of the great UI stuff they did in NeXTSTEP and re-envision that going forward (instead of the skeuomorphism of today). I also predict Cook, Ive, Mansfeld, Cue, Schiller and Federighi will take more steps with Apple into enterprise (don’t forget Cook hired the former United Continental Airlines CFO for VP of Sales and this guy will also be focusing more on enterprise). Further, Federighi at NeXT was in charge of Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF). So you see, Gruber doesn’t have any of this important NeXT context so why cite him?

    1. Gruber watches Apple pretty closely and often has pretty interesting opinions on the company. It doesn’t seem like he needs to have worked at or reported on Next for that. If that’s your complaint, why stop there. Where was he when the Apple][ came out? Or the original Mac.
      It’s not like this article relies much on Grubers opinion much anyway.

    2. Replying to this article doesn’t make any sense. GigaOM is a Johnny-come lately, it started a full FIVE years after the NeXT/Apple merger. I suggest you direct your comments to a blog that was actually around during the NeXT years that can grok the NeXT facets of Apple.

    3. Anonymous Commenter Eddie Tuesday, October 30, 2012

      User Interface wise, NeXT had its own quirks. I mean the icons were artistic masterpieces but the whole UI lacked something as basic as pervasive drag and drop for example. Contrast this to the Mac OS where almost any text or graphic could be dragged and dropped. Even to this day, I cannot drag a file over to a proxy icon at the top of a OS X Finder window to perform a quick copy/move (this worked well in classic Mac OS though). Also pre-OS X, the Finder understood the concept of metadata and file types not tied to a files extension. Some of these changes were because Tevanian (who I mostly admire) did not think these were really important. Matter of factly, Tevanian and lot of the NeXT engineers did not get what made some of user experience aspects of the classic Mac OS great. Which is why we ended up with the whole FTFF meme or folks like Tog who kept beating the whole spatial Finder mantra to the point of annoyance (even though I agree with most of that argument).

      Everyone from NeXT was associated with the Enterprise because that was their focus. This however doesn’t mean that Apple will once again head back into that area. Matter of factly, it makes no sense because no one in the Enterprise can take them seriously on the backend hardware/software considering how they discontinued the Xserve and how they totally mutilated OS X Server. Furthermore, even when Apple was trying to make headways into the Enterprise, Jobs never provided that sales and support group with a lot of resources. Last of all, Apple’s penchance for secrecy is at complete odds with how IT deals with planning where they want roadmaps sometimes looking at least 5 years out.

      1. Apple penetrating the enterprise doesn’t mean they have to build servers or develop server software. It could just mean that their devices see increased usage in the enterprise & act as clients to already existing servers. I read somewhere that Apple’s beefed up their enterprise sales force to help with this.

    4. Enterprise is a Geeks dream, where’s the new Mac Pro, or new rackable Mac for this dream or the new software? Scott Forstall had nothing to do with that.

    5. Funny you would mention Serlet and Tevanian; both of them were present at the iPad mini unveiling, seated RIGHT behind the executive team.

      Also, I noted that Forstall and Ive were on opposite ends of the exec team row. Not a coincidence.

      (scoot to the end of the video after Cook ends it to see this)

      1. I saw Bertrand but missed Avie. Guess I was too mesmerized by the new iMac.

  10. Forstall seems like one of those people who hasn’t quite found his own voice. Maybe he needs to take a “long walk in the wood,” like his mentor. He could come back a changed person.

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