As was widely reported yesterday long-time Apple executive and iOS chief Scott Forstall has been ousted. The Apple press release says that Forstall “will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.” Other Apple executives, including design guru Jony Ive have been promoted in connection with a reorganization.
There has been a great deal of speculation about “what happened,” given Forstall’s tenure with Steve Jobs and Apple. The general consensus appears to be that Forstall, despite being highly successful, was also highly “polarizing.” Apparently he was causing tension among the ranks of executives at Apple.
According to Om Malik’s sources in and around Apple, “Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups.” Forstall was in charge of iOS and had responsibility for Siri and Maps, which caused the company some public embarrassment after its data and other flaws were widely exposed.
Subsequent to the launch of Apple Maps many people speculated about whether Steve Jobs would have let such a product “out the door.” But there was also speculation that Apple didn’t get enough critical feedback from developers to identify the full extent of problems with maps. However a number of developers have disputed this contention.
The “last straw” may have come when Forstall refused to take public responsibility for the problems with Apple Maps. According to the NY Times:
While tensions between Mr. Forstall and other executives had been mounting for some time, a recent incident appeared to play a major role in his dismissal. After an outcry among iPhone customers about bugs in the company’s new mobile maps service, Mr. Forstall refused to sign a public apology over the matter, dismissing the problems as exaggerated, according to people with knowledge of the situation who declined to be named discussing confidential matters.
Instead, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, in September signed the apology letter to Apple customers over maps.
In the release yesterday Apple also announced the departure of Apple stores chief John Browett, who had been widely criticized for messing with a winning formula in Apple’s retail operation. Unlike Browett’s termination, the departure of Forstall came as a shock to some. Though controversial Forstall had guided iOS toward huge success.