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


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.

  • oneil nicholas

    i new it…i have been saying this for about a year now that scott was going to be the next big man on campus and not tim cook give scott two more years and he will be CEO

  • atimoshenko

    Steve Jobs never had a mentor that he tried to emulate. This was his defining quality. The biggest risk of the “next Steve Jobs” is that he or she would try to emulate Steve Jobs. Forstall seems too close to avoid this.

  • JasonA

    Yeah, I’ve been noticing that Scott has that energy and passion on stage. Tim and Phil not so much.

  • Xzarcx

    Wow, did you really just say that. shuuuh! what an idiot!

  • Shameer Mulji

    I agree.  One of SJ’s important lessons, at least according to the presentation he gave at Stanford, was blaze your own trail and that’s important.

    It’s one thing to possess the qualities SJ had to make Apple successful like attention to detail, design sense, long-term vision, etc. but Scott needs to be careful not be SJ, he needs to be Scott.  That’s how you move forward & come up with fresh new ideas.

    If he keeps rejecting things by telling his team members SJ won’t like it (as per the article) he could lose respect & that’s not a good thing. 

  • Bernard

    Apple is in good hands.

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  • oneil nicholas

    Yes i really did say that.. there is nothing wrong with what i had to say you fucking troll….its my opinon and if you don’t like it go FUCK YOUR SELF!

  • Tomi

    Sorry, but… I could never dig this guy. Every time he’s doing a presentation I can’t it wait to be over, most of the time he gets my FAST-FORWARD treatment on the remote regardless of how interesting it is. For what I heard of him, he’s an A$$. Although Steve was one also, at least he compensated with charisma.

  • Mike Jones

    Scott has the stage presence that many other Apple executives lack.  He’s young, so I’m sure Apple and T. Cook has plans for his development through the years.  If he manages to stick around, he may take the reigns at some point.

  • Xzarcx

    Hey hey,, get a hold of yourself, u stilly monkey! Im not even a apple product user. jeeezz. Linux, Android and Unix is all i have known for the past 15years u twit. me a Troll?! shuhh!. Your comment/opinion sounded like a twelve year old. CEO’s are not like your little toys u chose to change at any time cus you feel there is another shiny toy in your toy box. Use your head to think, not your eyes and finger. shame on you!

  • blondepianist

    He didn’t have a mentor per se, but he did consciously emulate the values HP had at the time. Even his signature turtleneck was inspired by the uniforms at Sony. There’s a difference between learning from a man and trying to be him – hopefully Forestall can do the former.

  • James McGhie

    I’ve said for a while now that Scott is the man being primed as the long term successor to Steve. To some he comes across as “cocky”, but I think he’s just as enthusiastic and interesting to listen to as Steve was, and he can hold an audience which is something the slower and more methodical Tim Cook cannot. 

  • markrlangston

    Great read. Outstanding article. 

    I have nothing but high hopes for Apple and Forstall and Ive are central to that success. If Apple loses either of them then yes, I believe the company will be in bad shape. Apple will certainly carry on and survive but without key execs like Forstall they’ll lose that edge of 1-uping the competition.

  • oneil nicholas

    You little bitch… now i can tell that you are a certified troll… i don’t know why i’m entertaining your stupid ass but it stops now go eat a dick and die asshole

  • Bill the Engineer

    So now why do the engineers call him Foreskin at Apple? I’m honestly curious.

  • Bill

    Awesome. Keep keepin’ it classy, you two erudite sophisticates!

  • atimoshenko

    I agree, but I would still stress the distinction between mentorship and learning. Learning means looking at a wide variety of sources and cherry picking and adapting the best ideas. Mentorship, in the sense of having a privileged teacher, is too single-source and unquestioning for my tastes.