Scott Forstall Will Be Apple’s Next CEO [Report]


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

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.

  • ddevito

    Although I agree with this, the headline is very misleading.

    But it’s a good sign for Apple. At least this is technically capable, and most likely has a tech driven innovative mind and drive.

    Cook can run a company but he’s an Operations guy. I can see him running UPS instead.

  • Snoop

    CEO?  Not in that shirt, cowboy…

  • Zudeo

    … LOL. 

    So true. We need a guy with personality to run Apple. Someone who’s willing to think differently.

  • Gregintosh

    The CEO needs to lead a team and make sure things get done. Cook does that. The CEO Doesn’t need to be a big personalty. Most good CEOs aren’t. Steve Jobs was an exception, not the rule.

    With that said, I could see Forstall taking point on product presentations, press conferences, etc.

    I am not sure that Apple is going to rattle the command structure much in the coming couple of years. It would be too much turbulence. Once promoted to CEO, it would not be good for one’s ego or public perception to be “demoted” (voluntary demotions only occur with founders, rarely with hired employees) so I don’t think Cook’s going anywhere. Once he is no longer CEO it probably means he will no longer be in the company.

  • kootenayredneck

    Apple will have two CEO’s in the future, similar to what RIM had, since one CEO can not look after a company such as Apple and be in two places at once, that is why Steve Job’s did the job he did and had Tom Cook look after the daily stuff that did’nt interest S.J..

    Two divisions, one mobile and one OSX platform.

  • Chris Jones

    Steve Jobs seemed to think Cook was the right man for Apple, and so did the Board of Directors.  I’m going to assume they knew what they were doing and, given the board’s decision to grant Cook stocks that don’t fully vest for ten years, that they were planning for the long haul.  

  • Len Williams

    I like Forstall. His presentations have always been lively and animated. One of Steve’s main strengths was his presentation ability. He was genuine, fun to watch and highly enthusiastic about Apple’s products without ever sounding like he was spewing out marketing hype. Steve was driven to create insanely great products, with major attention towards user friendliness, simplicity and usability. I think Forstall brings some of that genuine love of and enthusiasm for technology that Steve had.

    The oft quoted “reality distortion field” is a misnomer. It should have been called a “reality changing field”. Steve had a way of showing how Apple technology was empowering and fun. He pushed his team to come up with an integrated system of hardware, software and content delivery that has been yet to be matched anywhere. Steve didn’t distort reality, he ended up changing the world. I think Scott would be a worthy successor. This is not meant as a slight to Tim. He’s done a great job handling Apple’s affairs during Steve’s medical leaves and since his death. Tim’s presentations, however, are lackluster and I believe he knows it. I would bet we’ll be seeing lots more of Scott delivering presentations from here on.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    He’ll be perfect someday. Right now he’s too young. Maybe he could be “the presenter”.

  • macgizmo

    You read the OPINION of a writer and have somehow arrived at the fact that Forstall WILL BE the next CEO?

    Why am I not surprised at the headline?!

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  • al friede

    i sincerely hope that this is the complete bullshit that it sounds like, b/c forstall is a complete douchebag, and comes off as such in every presentation he’s ever given. if he’s the next ceo, apple’s headed backwards!

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    He leads the most successful part of Apple…….that’s not going backwards…..

  • SevanGrim

    i was surprised they didnt make him CEO in the first place. Ive been an ipod owner since right before the first touch came out, and hes the person ive always thought of as next in line. Granted, i dont follow the company’s actions bast ipods/phones, and he is kinda young, but it just seemed like the logical next step for the guy in charge of the most profitable portion and arguable “future” of the company to take over.

    that said, Apple’s not going to dethrone Cook. He will stay where he is, and Forstall will probably share some of his responsibilities as some slightly lesser role. But it shows company instability to remove someone from their position as CEO, so companies rarely do it.