The Man Who Would Be Steve: Scott Forstall Is More Important To Apple Than You Might Think

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Forstall
Will Apple regret saying goodbye to Scott Forstall?
Photo: Apple

At Apple’s press events, Scott Forstall is the guy who introduces the company’s latest developments with the iOS firmware. He also pops up in the company’s infamous marketing videos in which they use words like “amazing,” “revolutionary,” and “magical.” But Scott’s not just that guy who gets up on stage every so often. He’s an incredibly important member of Apple’s executive team, and in a profile by Bloomberg Businessweek, he’s described as a “mini-Steve” who’s driven, obsessed over little details, and a magnificent salesman.

Now that Steve is no longer there to lead the way at Apple, Scott has become even more imperative to the company’s executive team, according to Businessweek. He’s in charge of Apple’s mobile software division, which creates the iOS software that’s installed on those devices that make up a whopping 70% of Apple’s revenues.

Scott was incredibly close to Steve, according to Andy Miller, who was in charge of Apple’s iAd project before leaving the company this summer. “When he says stuff, people listen,” Miller said. And in many ways, Scott was just like him, too.

He’s a hard-driving manager who obsesses over every detail. He has Jobs’s knack for translating technical, feature-set jargon into plain English. He’s known to have a taste for the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, in silver, the same car Jobs drove, and even has a signature on-stage costume: black shoes, jeans, and a black zippered sweater.

Forstall is like Steve in one other important way: He can be, in what some of his co-workers might call an understatement, a polarizing figure. He’s won the intense loyalty and allegiance of many of his underlings, and his engineers are among the hardest workers at the company. At the same time, according to several former Apple employees, a number of high-ranking executives have left the company because they found working with Forstall so difficult.

Scott’s only 42, which makes him the youngest member of the executive team, but he certainly isn’t pushed around. In fact, he has a “fraught relationship” with a number of other executives, including Apple’s lead designer, Jony Ive, and Mac hardware chief Bob Mansfield. The pair reportedly avoid meetings with Scott unless Tim Cook is present.

Forstall’s most recent triumphs are likely bittersweet. Over the last few years he watched as his biggest champion and mentor slowly lost an agonizing personal battle, all while products running his software have helped make Apple the most valuable company in the world. Apple has sold more than a quarter billion devices running Forstall’s iOS.

If you have even the slightest interest in Apple, and the team of people who make the awesome products that we use every do, I urge you to go and read Businessweek’s profile on Scott Forstall. It’s an awesome read, and a captivating insight into a man who you may not know much about right now.