Scott Forstall was destined for big things at Apple. Originally part of Steve Jobs’s NeXT team, he spent 15 years with the Cupertino company and spearheaded its hugely successful iOS software division. Many believed he would succeed Tim Cook as CEO later on, but on Monday, but the chances of that happening looked impossible when Apple announced Forstall was on his way out.
The news came as a shock to us all, but it seems there are several reasons why Apple had to remove Forstall from its executive team — it seems refusing to apologize for the whole Maps debacle wasn’t the only one.
GigaOM’s Om Malik reports that there are many contributing factors that led to Forstall’s dismissal. Not only did he refuse to apologize to Apple’s users for the incomplete Maps app — as reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday — but he was also disliked among the other Apple executives.
“Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups,” Malik writes. “Or as one of my sources quipped: there are a lot of people going for celebratory drinks, even if there is a little bit of doubt about their roles in the future.”
Forstall was notoriously hard to get along with, so much so that executives refused to hold meetings with him unless Tim Cook was present. You see, Steve Jobs acted as a mediator between Forstall and the rest of Apple’s team while he was CEO, but without Jobs around, the rift became too much of an issue.
“According to my sources, there have been fissures in the management team for a while,” Malik says. “Steve Jobs and Forstall were close, but none of the executives really cared for the deposed iOS chief. He really built a reputation by executing on Steve’s vision and acting as Steve’s mouthpiece.”
“Forstall had less than pleasant relationships with many senior executives including Cue and Mansfield. My sources confirm what the Times reported earlier – Ive and Forstall had a rocky relationship,” Malik added.
Despite this, Forstall’s dismissal was reportedly a “fairly last minute” decision, and he didn’t initiate it himself. Many of Apple’s workers within the iOS and OS X teams didn’t hear about it until after Apple’s press release went out on Monday.
Craig Federighi, who oversees Apple’s OS X software business, will now take on the iOS business as well, in place of Forstall. However, he still needs to prove himself at Apple, Malik reports, and he’s not as decisive as Forstall.
Eddy Cue has been given the responsibility of fixing Siri and Maps, but the reasons behind the failures with these products is interesting. Since WSJ’s report came out yesterday, Forstall has largely been blamed for the problems with Maps, and for not fixing issues known to Apple before the app made its way into users’ hands.
However, Forstall may not have had time to fix them. Malik reports that there’s a big change happening within Apple; “a culture of schedule-driven releases has become common place,” and the company is shipping half-baked products that aren’t ready for primetime because they simply ran out of time.
It is a worrying thought, but let’s not forget that Steve Jobs was still overseeing Apple when the company shipped Siri, so this culture must have been worming its way in before Cook was left to his own devices. Maybe this executive reshuffle is an effort to change that culture again.
Only time will tell, but I’m certainly excited about where Apple is headed, and I’m confident there are big things to come.