Why Scott Forstall And John Browett Got Fired From Apple Today


Scott Forstall. Photo: Apple
Scott Forstall. Photo: Apple

The announcement that both Scott Forstall and John Browett are leaving Apple today came as a big surprise to many Apple fans. Browett has only been with Apple for nine months, but Scott Forstall was one of Steve Jobs’ favorite employees and has been with Apple since 1997.

Apple hasn’t released any of the specifics as to why Browett and Forestall are leaving Apple, but we’re assuming they got fired for their missteps from the past 12 months.

Here’s why both of them may have been axed:

Reason for firing Scott Forstall

  • Siri. When Forstall pitched Siri during the iPhone 4S keynote, the personal assistant looked amazing. It seemed to understand everything Scott asked it and came back with quick replies. The actual product has been quite different though, and some have accused Forstall of over promising and under-delivering on Siri. It was supposed to be a huge selling feature of the iPhone 4S, but now it’s become more of an after-thought and joke.
  • Apple Maps. By now, everyone is well aware of the horrible reputation Apple Maps has earned. The sad part is, a lot of Apple Maps’ problems were fixable by the iOS development team before the launch. Forstall’s team rushed Maps out before doing a lot of quality assurance and checking their data for discrepancies in public record. The damage done to Apple’s reputation via the Maps mishap has been reason enough to get anyone fired, even Apple’s iOS wonderboy.
  • iOS development. While Microsoft has come out with an innovative new mobile operating system and Android has added loads of new features, iOS 5 and iOS 6 haven’t been as captivating. Yes, iOS is still an incredible product, but the skeuomorphic leather and wood grain interfaces that Forestall’s teams have added over the last two years have made iOS feel dated. Apple needs to start making some daring steps with iOS to maintain their lead in the mobile space, and Forstall has not appeared to be willing to do so.
  • Ego. Steve Jobs was a brilliant visionary, known for demanding to have things done his way. Forstall has received unflattering comparisons to Jobs. There have been whispers that Apple’s senior vice presidents avoid having meetings with Forstall unless Tim Cook is present because he has become increasingly difficult to work with. Maybe sometime away from Apple will help Forstall’s leadership abilities mature, just like it helped Steve Jobs.

Reasons For Firing Browett

  • Chemistry. Ever since Browett took over retail operations from Ron Johnson he’s been trying to make his mark within the company.  He hasn’t fit in with the Apple ethos and has caused a stir during his first year. It seems pretty harsh to fire someone because they don’t fit in right away, but Apple can’t afford to lose any ground on their retail operations.
  • He’s focused on revenues, not customers. Before coming to Apple, Browett was the CEO at the electronic retailer Dixons. His rep at Dixons was that he cared more about making money than helping customers. People were shocked that Apple hired Browett despite his reputation and it appears that those fears weren’t without warrant. Throughout 2012 Browett has come up with new Apple Store policies that have detracted from the customer experience. He’s tried to lower the number of Apple Store employees so stores become even more profitable, and has failed to see that people go to the Apple Store for the excellent customer service.


  • LDMartin1959

    “…cared more about making money than helping customers…failed to see that people go to the Apple Store for the excellent customer service.”

    I think that fairly accurately sums up the business understanding of *most* middle managers in corporate America these days.

  • Yellowcows

    Great News… Apple …Bring back Google Maps with turn-by-turn as an option (tired of that conflict with Google bringing lost of fonctionality of my iPhone, Make skeumorphism just a theme among others, work hard with Siri , Release a new Mac Pro and…and hire me!

  • Gavin Blur

    think you NAILED it with both!

  • Ollie_McMillan

    Good choice of picture to head this article.

  • jimbohc

    Anyone in the UK will not be surprised by Browett’s departure given how stunned we were that he was appointed in the first place… not sure what the US equivalent of Dixons is but suffice to say that customer service and satisfaction is not high on their “to do” list… selling as much as possible with crappy high cost, unnecessary warranties is though… Apple and Dixons could be seen as the retail equivalent of Matter and Anti-Matter

  • aardman

    Pure speculation: maybe Ron Johnson’s days in JCP are numbered and Tim Cook is making room for his return. Also, was Bob Mansfield’s resignation (since headed off) the precipitating event for Forstall’s departure? i.e. Bob Mansfield: Forstall’s departure forestalls departure?

  • Buster

    @LDMartin1959 it does. I don’t think you can fault Browett for thinking that way when he entered the company, but I’m sure Tim Cook told him that they don’t care about squeezing every dollar out of their retail stores. Apple uses retail stores more as a way to market the apple brand and help customers more than they use it to make money. As a result, people spend more in an apple store because they’re always taken care of so well. Browett wanted to reduce staff and cram geniuses with more appointments. Bad ideas.

  • John Frum

    This is good speculation, but it’s still conjecture. Still…basing an article on assumptions, now that’s ballsy.

    Or, as is apparent from the photograph, were you there when Forstall got the news?

  • LarryRac

    Thank you for clearing this up. When I first read of the departures of Forstall and Browett I went into panic mode. I realized early that Maps and SIRI really bothered me from the start not to mention the change of customer service over profits at the stores. SIRI should be flawless with iPhione 5 and its not. Maps was such a big disappointment that I delayed my iPhione 5 purchase till I got back from my vacation in NYC where I used Google maps to navigate the city.

  • nakizo

    OMG I hate the Apple store. I went to buy the new Nano and not only was treated with the usual snarkiness of a ‘genius’, but it amazes me how difficult it is to make an actual purchase of ANYTHING in that store. Seriously, take my money please. I ended up leaving in a huff to order it online. Well, either way, Apple gets my money.

  • dcdevito

    The ship is sinking

  • Appledystopia

    Pure speculation: maybe Ron Johnson’s days in JCP are numbered and Tim Cook is making room for his return. Also, was Bob Mansfield’s resignation (since headed off) the precipitating event for Forstall’s departure? i.e. Bob Mansfield: Forstall’s departure forestalls departure?

    I know that Mansfield and Ive wanted Tim Cook present when they had to deal with Forstall. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mansfield wanted to retire out of frustration. If you watch the Apple events where Forstall presents, you can detect his arrogance. As someone who works in the valley, there’s a lot of people, particularly out of Stanford, who are extremely arrogant. Some Stanford grads tend to have an inflated self-esteem. It’s a great school, and I’ve worked with many great people from there. But I’ve worked with some mediocre people who think they are great solely because they went there, and will say “but I went to Stanford, so I’m correct”. I must say, the smartest people I work with went to Cal. I didn’t go to Cal or Stanford, so I have no dog in the fight. I bring this up, because Forstall seems “Stanford obsessed”, even using Hoover Tower as a landmark in a demo. I just get that feeling he’s one of those jerks, but I don’t know enough to say for sure…

    The thing is, there are more intelligent team players in the valley, making the jerks completely replaceable. For every jerk in the valley, it’s just a matter of time before they either move on or get fired.

    I think this is a good move for Apple. iOS could be much better than it is. While Apple has always been the company with baby-step releases (and I don’t expect this to change), defects are not the Apple way. Next to Apple TV, iOS is next worse product (Apple TV runs on iOS, but I’m referring to the version for iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches). It needs to be near-flawless, like Mac OS X. It’s been out for over 4 years now, and it grew out of the iPod operating system. Lack of maturity is no longer an excuse. With Forstall out of the picture, perhaps the new head of iOS can make quality a priority.

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    Was Scott a jerk? Many geniuses are jerks. ANd I mean geniuses, not Apple Geniuses.

  • al friede

    i’ve always hated forstall, so if this is legit i’m completely stoked b/c he’s always come off at the ultimate douche bag!

  • defactomonkey

    I worked briefly in an Apple Store and was there for the shift that occurred after Browett came on. It is not surprising he is gone and reaffirms my faith in the company.