The Many Reasons Behind The Demise Of Scott Forstall’s Apple Career


Forstall refused to say sorry for Apple's half-baked Maps app, but that isn't the only reason why he's on his way out.
Photo: Apple

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.

Source: GigaOM

  • technochick

    According to a number of sources, Forstall was a total asshat. He thought he could get away with it like Steve could be he didn’t have Steve’s clout and position. Once Steve was gone it got worse because when Forstall refused to play nice folks would go over him to Steve and get him on board with something and he would tell Forstall to do it and the guy would.

    Once Tim was alone at the wheel, Forstall became a total nightmare. He is right about the data issue but the app was misrendering things they had the data for and that was on him. Known issues that he likely said would be handled on time where not. Features like the wifi breaking to the tune of sometimes hundreds of dollars in overages per customer are still not fixed. Focusing on cutesy twat like the volume knob shadows while the Music app is totally borked is Forstall’s problem.

    Forstall didn’t need to apologize for Maps, he needed to apologize for iOS 6. Over half of the ‘Apple has lost it’ smack talk and the stock price tanking is because of iOS 6 being so messed up and that is on Forstall. A CEO needs to know he can count on his team. Cook doesn’t know that about Forstall so it’s time to call an audible. Forstall’s history with Steve notwithstanding

  • keir_john

    Maybe this is Forstall’s NeXT moment? All I can say for certain is that iOS has stagnated for the last 3+ years, so some kind of change was sorely needed. Apple is no longer the company introducing exciting new features to the mobile space. In fact, every iteration of hardware/software is becoming less compelling.

    I watched the MS mobile presentation yesterday and found myself jealous of some pretty nifty innovations like dynamic lock screen, rooms – shared content like notes, calendars, and photos, always-on Skype, kids corner… This is in addition to features that Apple is already behind on such as NFC sharing.

    I’m at the point where I’m starting to feel that I no longer have the best product in my pocket, which is not a good place for Apple to be.

  • CommonManDZ

    “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.”

    Didn’t SJ die, literally, like two days later? That’s a long stretch there. It’s safe to say that SJ didn’t have final say on whether or not to proceed w/ launching Siri.

  • Zod Buster

    Firing others over the last couple of really bad decisions .. aren’t you the CEO.. if so
    then if you are not also guilty of complicity, you are DEFINITELY guilty of INCOMPETENCE

  • owerrc

    steve jobs died the next day after siri’s keynote… I remember in his biography it mentioned that siri was brought up to him for the first time on his last day at apple before he became too sick to even show up to work

  • playseatplanted

    trying to read between the lines it sounds like apple execs were not happy with his uncooperation leading to mansfield “retireing” then from what I’ve read forstall was good at passing blame for failures so when he got called out on maps instead of manning up he sent his ios team an email telling them they weren’t working on innovative features for ios which made Tim realize this guy is never gonna play ball with apple without steve or a ceo title. and to be honest the new exec arrangement makes a lot of sense and gives me a hell of a lot of confidence in what apple will be doing in the future’ I mean jon Ive designing UI!…puuurfect. the other succesful team execs collaborating to make better products all around…heaven! I’ll admit I was starting to worry about the future of apple but now I think the wrench has been pulled from the gears and appl will run a lot smoother now, besides better forstall than all the other top execs