Former Apple Engineer Says Firing Scott Forstall Was A Big Mistake


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

After being stripped of his position as senior vice president of iOS software, Scott Forstall will now server as an advisor to Tim Cook until he leaves Apple in 2013. While we can’t be certain why he’s really leaving the Cupertino company, rumor has it he’s been axed for refusing to apologize for the half-baked Maps app in iOS 6, and his fiery personality that often upsets others in the Apple camp.

However, Michael Lopp, a director at Palantir and a former senior engineer at Apple, believes firing Forstall was a big mistake. Lopp believes that Forstall “was the best approximation of Steve Jobs that Apple had left.”

“In my years at Apple, the Caffe Macs [the Apple cafeteria] chatter about Forstall was that he was the only legit successor to Jobs,” Lopp told Business Insider.

Lopp admits that Forstall was a jerk — just like Steve Jobs could be — but he insists he was a successful one. The fact that he was disliked by other executive at Apple was, in Lopp’s view, a good thing. He believes Apple’s ability to innovate came from tension and disagreement.

Lopp highlights the first sentence of Apple’s press release announcing the departure of Forstall, which read:

Apple today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams.

He noted the word “collaboration” and explained how it could spell “doom” for Apple: “Close your eyes and imagine a meeting with Steve Jobs. Imagine how it proceeds and how decisions are made. Does the word collaboration ever enter your mind? Not mine.”

In many ways, I think Lopp is right. Forstall may have been a fiery character that was hard to get a long with, but so was the man who primed him, Steve Jobs. Jobs didn’t tip-toe around things in an effort to keep the peace. If he thought someone’s ideas were terrible, he told them straight — it didn’t matter who they were.

There could be plenty of other reasons behind Forstall’s departure, of course. His reported refusal to sign the Maps apology may be one of them. But we can’t deny that he did some terrific work with iOS over the past five years. Here’s to hoping Apple can keep that up without him.

Source: Business Insider