Apple Exec Scott Forstall Fired Over Refusal To Sign Maps Apology [Report]

Apple Exec Scott Forstall Fired Over Refusal To Sign Maps Apology [Report]

Scott Forstall, the head of iOS for the past several years, was asked to leave Apple today, a move The Wall Street Journal is reporting as due to his refusal to sign his name to the letter of apology for the incomplete feature set and poor performance of iOS 6’s new Maps app.

The journal cites “people familiar with the matter,” who report that both Forstall and recent retail executive, John Browett, were both asked to leave. This is one of the bigger upsets in the balance of executive power at the Cupertino tech company in quite some time, and may in fact signal a move by Tim Cook, new CEO, to more firmly establish his own mark on Apple.

While Cult of Mac has reported on the ousted executives today, including some thoughts on why Forstall was asked to leave, this is the first report we’ve seen about the specific refusal to sign an apology letter.

The WSJ also points to Browett’s departure as a failure to fit in with the corporate culture at Apple, along with recent mistakes in the retail arena, including a poorly-received staffing formula that favored saving money over providing a higher quality customer experience.

The Journal notes mounting tension among the Apple executive staff regarding Scott Forstall’s approach, which is rumored to have been confrontational and uncooperative. He’s also been reported as relying on his long association with co-founder Steve Jobs.

Added to the refused signature, says the report, Forstall sent the iOS team at Apple an email saying that they weren’t working on enough big ideas in mobile software, a move the may have tipped the scales even farther out of his favor. The failure, at least in the public and media eye, of Apple’s new iOS 6 version of Maps was unfortunate enough. Refusing to sign his name to the apology that then went out with just Cook’s signature may have been the deciding factor.

Forstall remains on the payroll at Apple as an advisor, though Cult of Mac’s own Leander Kahney expressed his own thoughts on how the move is a shrewd one, as it keeps Forstall from jumping too soon into a job with a competitor.

Who will take over the iOS team? Senior Vice President Eddy Cue will deal with Siri and Maps, while Jony Ive will cover the interface team, as part of his new, expanded role at Apple.

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  • dcdevito

    This isn’t the only reason – as already stated by this site in a prior post.

    Forstall was a clown, and he isn’t the first to be leaving. Apple is headstrong on keeping great operational execs, and while there’s nothing wrong with that strategy – the only caveat is that they’re running (in the world’s eyes) the most technologically innovative company on the planet. Tim Cook could be on the best COOs ever, but I highly doubt he has the vision to be the CEO of Apple. Cheers

  • aardman

    Tim Cook could be on the best COOs ever, but I highly doubt he has the vision to be the CEO of Apple. Cheers

    Which is why he needs the executive team to work with him and among themselves more closely. They need, among themselves, to come up with a collective vision that might perhaps approach Steve Jobs’ because everyone knows you can’t go out and hire someone to fill his shoes.

    To his credit, Tim admits that he’s not the kind of product guy that Steve was, so that’s a good start. But even before we condemn him for lack of vision, I bring to you exhibit A of “vision-less COOs”: Bob Iger over at Disney. Everyone thought that Eisner’s shoes were too big for Bob Iger to fill. One notable exception though was Steve Jobs. And he was right, Iger turned out to be the right kind of leader to take over from Eisner and Disney has done quite well with him at the helm. Maybe Steve saw in Tim the same thing he saw in Bob Iger.

  • technochick

    I highly doubt that is the full story.

    Acting like an asshat as the rumors claim
    Refusing to listen to feedback about his precious skeuromorphic bits as the rumors claim
    The major issues in iOS 6 like killing wifi in phones, not properly switching to wifi and costing customers tons of overage charges
    Perhaps promising more than he could deliver
    Allegedly sending emails to his team expressing how stupid he thought certain decisions made by Cook etc were

    That was likely part of it also

  • Evan Gage

    Best part of this news is Jony Ive taking over Human Interface. YES!!!

  • dcdevito

    This is what happens when a guy gets in over his head. He’s a software engineer, not a design strategist. He’s the guy you go to and ask him to do a task. He’s not the type of guy that can head a crucial component of your business. Now maybe we can get rid of some of that cartoon graphics we’ve been inflicted with in iOS and OSX. iOS graphic interface is rather old and tired now. I always changed iOS icons to OSX icons right after every jailbreak. Jony Ive is the obvious future leader of Apple. He’s the only one with a passionate design brain that even comes close to that of Steve Jobs.

    But knows nothing about software. Right – brilliant move

  • avonord

    Game of thrones

  • technochick

    But knows nothing about software. Right – brilliant move

    You don’t really know what Sir Jony knows about software but that’s a tad moot since he is not writing it all himself, the engineers are. Sir J is in charge of Interface Design, ie the UI. Don’t need to be an expert software engineer for that

  • technochick

    This isn’t the only reason – as already stated by this site in a prior post.

    Forstall was a clown, and he isn’t the first to be leaving. Apple is headstrong on keeping great operational execs, and while there’s nothing wrong with that strategy – the only caveat is that they’re running (in the world’s eyes) the most technologically innovative company on the planet. Tim Cook could be on the best COOs ever, but I highly doubt he has the vision to be the CEO of Apple. Cheers

    The fact that he dumped a retail Vp that was a horrid fit, the fact that he got rid of an ego that out cutesy twat before having a bug free product. I’d said Tim is doing just fine

  • JF Schnell

    Time will tell what is best. As someone says this is just a game of thrones right now and it happens everywhere. As for what is coming I have serious doubts. Maybe the best of Apple juice is gone. Tim is doing what any other CEO would do.

  • iPoddie

    Oh my god! he shouldn’t have had been fired! I don’t think Tim Cook wouldn’t want to be fired from his place as CEO if he didn’t sign!

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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