Former Apple Engineer Says Firing Scott Forstall Was A Big Mistake

Former Apple Engineer Says Firing Scott Forstall Was A Big Mistake

Will Apple regret saying goodbye to Scott Forstall?

After being stripped of his position as senior vice president of iOS software, Scott Forstall will now server as an advisor to Tim Cook until he leaves Apple in 2013. While we can’t be certain why he’s really leaving the Cupertino company, rumor has it he’s been axed for refusing to apologize for the half-baked Maps app in iOS 6, and his fiery personality that often upsets others in the Apple camp.

However, Michael Lopp, a director at Palantir and a former senior engineer at Apple, believes firing Forstall was a big mistake. Lopp believes that Forstall “was the best approximation of Steve Jobs that Apple had left.”

“In my years at Apple, the Caffe Macs [the Apple cafeteria] chatter about Forstall was that he was the only legit successor to Jobs,” Lopp told Business Insider.

Lopp admits that Forstall was a jerk — just like Steve Jobs could be — but he insists he was a successful one. The fact that he was disliked by other executive at Apple was, in Lopp’s view, a good thing. He believes Apple’s ability to innovate came from tension and disagreement.

Lopp highlights the first sentence of Apple’s press release announcing the departure of Forstall, which read:

Apple today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams.

He noted the word “collaboration” and explained how it could spell “doom” for Apple: “Close your eyes and imagine a meeting with Steve Jobs. Imagine how it proceeds and how decisions are made. Does the word collaboration ever enter your mind? Not mine.”

In many ways, I think Lopp is right. Forstall may have been a fiery character that was hard to get a long with, but so was the man who primed him, Steve Jobs. Jobs didn’t tip-toe around things in an effort to keep the peace. If he thought someone’s ideas were terrible, he told them straight — it didn’t matter who they were.

There could be plenty of other reasons behind Forstall’s departure, of course. His reported refusal to sign the Maps apology may be one of them. But we can’t deny that he did some terrific work with iOS over the past five years. Here’s to hoping Apple can keep that up without him.

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  • bdkennedy

    I disagree. The past 2 versions of OS X have been sub par and Scotts design influence is now old school. I do not know anyone that loves the leather calendar. Oh, and Killian is cute.

  • bondr006

    I disagree. The past 2 versions of OS X have been sub par and Scotts design influence is now old school. I do not know anyone that loves the leather calendar. Oh, and Killian is cute.

    He didn’t work on OS X, he was Senior VP of iOS software. I completely agree with the article. Scott had been with Steve Jobs since NeXT, and from what I understand was well liked by Jobs. Tim Cook may be the boss, but he is no Steve Jobs. He is a great business man, but needs all the help he can get from all the people that Jobs hand picked. I also think it’s a big mistake to be letting him go.

  • robert_walter

    If Steve thought Scott was the next Steve, he would have made Scott the next Steve instead of Tim.

    Steve warned Tim to avoid trying to do what Steve would have done, and to just do what Tim thought was right.

    Frankly I’m hoping some of the product feature weaknesses and absences in iOS will now be rectified.

  • NCSilverBear

    It would seem you’ve forgotten one important fact: Steve Jobs created and then “owned” Apple. There is a vast difference between what he could and did get away with when interacting with others. It was his company. He built it. He had every right to exact his heavy handed personality on the process. He had the power to do with Apple what he pleased to do.

    While Forstall may have been groomed by Jobs, his time was not yet there. His mentor and protector was gone and dead. Apparently, Forstall has a few lessons yet to be learned.

    Maybe, he will have to go away, like Jobs did, for a while. And come back another day, in another time, to revive Apple from the ashes. Because, maybe there are a few more lessons for Apple — and Forstall — to learn — or re-learn.

    Only time will tell.

    Jon Markle

    Still trudging — Raleigh, NC ~ Je suis tous les pouces. Envoyé de mon iPhone.

  • technochick

    iOS 6 was full of bugs and many of them still aren’t fixed. Forstall was responsible for the quality of the final release and it really feels like he was too busy adding cute but pointless button shadows etc to do his actual job. Add the rumors that he is a class A jerk who won’t listen to anyone including his boss now that that is someone other than Steve (and has always been that way) and it is easy to see why Tim dropped him and needed to

  • certified_dan

    Watch him go and join the Android team and make the war 1000x larger between the two phone platforms. That would be a FML kind of day. I for one am sick and tired of the leather and book bindings look of iOS. It has not changed dramatically in many years. It’s about time Sir Jonathan Ive was given a bigger role. His design expertise has made him famous world wide!

  • ADimensionOfMind

    After the Maps cock up and then ripping off the clock face costing the company $21 million is it any wonder Scott got shown the door? Steve picked Tim to run Apple not Scott as he thought that was the better choice for the future of the company. There’s no replacing Steve and Apple has to find a new way of working which its current changes and shifts highlight. It may be that Scott thought he was Steve and could do what he wanted and Tim has rightly taken control and put an end to it. There’s sure to be another year of post Steve turmoil ahead until everything settles out and Apple settles into a clear road map again.

  • Killian

    I disagree. The past 2 versions of OS X have been sub par and Scotts design influence is now old school. I do not know anyone that loves the leather calendar. Oh, and Killian is cute.

    Thanks ;)

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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