Apple CEO Tim Cook has barely had time to make his mark on the tech giant when an ambitious senior vice president is being portrayed as a ‘CEO-in-waiting.’ In a soon-to-be published look inside Apple, Scott Forstall is described as a potential problem for Cook, who only months ago took over for co-founder Steve Jobs.
“Whether Forstall will happily remain a supporting player will be one of the great internal dramas of Cook’s tenure,” writes Fortune reporter Adam Lashinsky in his book Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired — and Secretive — Company Really Works, to be released next week. Forstall, who leads Apple’s lucrative mobile division, has the drive and the résumé to be a CEO.
According to Lashinsky, Forstall’s division creates 70 percent of Apple’s income and is viewed as “the total package” by outsiders with connections to Apple. Among his qualities: Forstall earned his tech credibility at Jobs’s NeXT, has a penchant for details (inspecting icons pixel-by-pixel with a jeweler’s loupe), and is a collector of executive suite IOUs.
“He blatantly accumulated influence in recent years, including, it is whispered, when Jobs was on medical leave,” Lashinsky writes. While Forstall was gathering influence, Cook was shouldering the load of actually running the shop while Jobs was out sick. This tendency could be a problem if Forstall wants to move up the ranks within Apple. “He wears his ambition in plainer view than the typical Apple executive,” the Fortune writer relates.
Although biographer Walter Isaacson’s insider’s look benefitted from extensive interviews with Jobs, the Lashinsky book is seen as a valuable work of reporting based on outsiders and former employees. While the first book revealed much about the Apple co-founder’s life, this latest work may give us a closer look at just how the company churns out product after product that wows consumers.
Should Cook be worried about an overly-eager executive lusting for his leadership post? Not hardly. Like a king-in-waiting has few options other than to wait out the current leader, there are few companies on this planet that would be more exciting to lead than Apple. That’s why Forstall will likely remain where he is, accumulate more brownie points, and become to Cook what the current CEO was to Jobs.