Apple Monday fired the two top executives in charge of its mobile software and retail operations in a move that the company said is aimed at making the company’s divisions all work better together.
It’s also another reminder that late CEO Steve Jobs is gone and Tim Cook is working to remold the company in a more modern mode as it moves forward. Cook said Scott Forstall, who heads mobile software, and retail chief John Browett are leaving
Forstall, an Apple veteran is the biggest executive packing up his desk. For many years, Forstall ran software development for the iPad and iPhone and many felt he most closely embodied Jobs’ technology ideas.
However, Forstall’s ambitious nature generated friction in the company, even more so after Jobs died, reports the New York Times, and the problems with mobile maps in the new Apple operating system sealed his doom.
Remember back a month ago, when Cook sent out a letter to customers admitting to the problem? You know, the one where he sounded like he was groveling and where he said people can always use other map apps until Apple worked out the bugs?
Instead of security escorting Scott Forstall out, they made him use Maps to locate the front door. He ended up trapped in a broom closet.
— Michael Simmons (@macguitar) October 30, 2012
Well, it seems Forstall was the one who should have apologized for the matter, but he refused to sign a public apology, leaving it up to his boss. He also dismissed the problems as being exaggerated, said a source who declined to be named. His stance mirrored what Jobs did back when the antennae would not work on a previous iPhone, and the late CEO implied the problem was mainly user error.
Meanwhile, Browett, who joined Apple this year, left his post as CEO of Dixons Retail, the largest U.K. consumer-electronics retailer. Apple had searched for more than seven months for someone to replace Ron Johnson, who left to head J.C. Penney.
Apple is calling some of Browett’s steps, including reducing staffing at it stores and cutting people’s hours a “mistake” and said it’s looking for a new head of retail. Meanwhile, the retail team will report directly to Cook until a new senior vice president can be found.
Forstall, though, as an Apple veteran who often took the stage during product launches, was the biggest shocker in Monday’s announcements.
His duties will be taken over by Jonathan “Jony” Ive, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi.
Cue will be in charge of Apple maps and Siri, the iPhone’s virtual assistant, both of which have been criticized for not meeting Apple’s usual quality standards.
Ive, the head of industrial design who’s even been knighted for his expertise, will get more software responsibilities, and Federighi will lead development of iOS, the operating system for Apple’s products.
In another part of the shakeup, Bob Mansfield, who had run hardware engineering and was planning to retire, is getting his own division, Technologies, which will combine the company’s wireless and semiconductor teams. Mansfield, who until now had nobody reporting to him, had been exploring health apps for Apple’s mobile products.
Some industry insiders said Forstall was a strong proponent in user interfaces, or skeuomorphic design, which imitates artifacts and textures. Jobs was a big fan of the design program, but Ive thought they looked dated.
It didn’t help Forstall’s case to be on the outs with Ive and many other top executives. Insiders said Ive and Forstall wouldn’t even be in the same meeting room together. Apparently, Forstall was fighting with other executives as well over design issues.