Head of iOS software Scott Forstall out at Apple amid big reorganization

Apple WWDC 2012 Scott Forstall

Apple announced on Monday a major reorganization of the top leadership of the company that will take SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall out of the picture. Forstall, once considered an heir apparent to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, will be leaving Apple next year. Recently hired SVP of Retail Operations John Browett will also depart the company.

As part of the reorganization, other top executives will be expanding their roles at the company. Head of industrial design Jony Ive will become responsible for a new Human Interface group. Eddy Cue, who already oversees all Apple’s online services, will add Siri and Maps to his responsibilities. Craig Federighi, recently promoted to the SVP of Mac Software Engineering, will also now oversee iOS, which was Forstall’s division. Bob Mansfield, who retired then un-retired this year as head of Hardware Engineering, will lead a new Technologies division, which includes chip development.

Browett’s stint at Apple was short. His replacement has not yet been hired, and Apple says it is on the hunt for a new head of retail operations.

In a statement, CEO Tim Cook said: “We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history. The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Browett’s departure comes as little surprise. His first big move after joining Apple earlier this year was to cut back on personnel at Apple’s retail stores. The move was met by a cascade of bad publicity, and Apple had him quickly apologize and reverse course.

Forstall’s departure is far more significant. He was responsible for overseeing the development of iOS, the software created to power the original iPhone. The success of iOS has catapulted Apple to the top of the mobile world. But his success has been accompanied by some gaffes that have hurt Apple’s image. Both Siri and Maps, which he oversaw, were released in beta, and it was clear neither were in the shape most customers had come to expect of an Apple finished product.

But the Maps issue is likely what pushed him out the door. Maps was not released with a “beta” tag and caused a huge uproar when released alongside the new iPhone 5 last month. The incident has been embarrassing for Apple, and Cook was forced to make a public apology for the misstep.

There were other issues too that put Forstall at odds with his fellow executives. He was a protege of Steve Jobs, but also known to have clashed with Ive in particular. Some reports from insiders at the company revealed brewing tension on the leadership team surrounding Forstall, who wasn’t known to be a very easy person to work with. Some executives, like Ive, reportedly would not attend meetings where Forstall was present. Forstall was also known as a leading force behind the skeumorphic design philosophy behind iOS. While Jobs was said to have favored it, Ive and other designers reportedly had significant disagreement over Apple’s overall design direction.

Update: Forstall’s departure was definitely related to the Maps fiasco. He was asked to leave the company after he refused to sign his name to the public apology over Maps, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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