By Jim Karpen on Tue, 10/30/2012
A couple top executives at Apple were shown the door yesterday, in a major shakeup by CEO Tim Cook. Scott Forstall, a longtime protege of Steve Jobs who accompanied Jobs when he moved to Apple from Next back in 1996, was relieved of his duties as head of the mobile software products group, which is responsible for iOS and Apple apps development. He will be retained into next year as a special advisor to Cook. In addition, John Browett, who Apple hired to head up their retail stores seven months ago, was let go.
Apple's own press release, however, focused not on the departure of these top executives, but on the reassignment of their duties to key people within Apple. Legendary product designer Jony Ive will now oversee software design, essentially replacing Forstall, in addition to his continued role as head of hardware design. This new role elevates Ive's influence in the company and is being viewed quite positively by market analysts. In the Walter Isaacson of Steve Jobs, he writes that Jobs had extraordinary confidence in Ive and felt that Ive's vision was closest to his own.
Eddy Cue, a longtime executive who runs online products such as the Apple Store, will now add Siri and Apple Maps to his portfolio. Two other executives also have expanded roles. Craig Federighi, who has been in charge of developing the software that powers the Macintosh computers, will also now take charge of the iOS side. In addition a new group, called Technologies, has been created under the leadership of Bob Mansfield. It combines Apple’s wireless teams, including the semiconductor teams.
An executive search has begun to replace Browett.
Apple emphasized that the move was intended to create greater integration in the company. The new organization "will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams," Apple said.
The scuttle on the street was that many at Apple were happy to see Forstall go. He apparently had the same sort of abrasive temperment as Steve Jobs. According to MacTrast, Forstall was even rumored at one point to be inline for the top spot at Apple. Some say that he was grasping for more influence, which caused problems. Also, it's rumored that he refused to have his name associated with Apple's apology that was released after all the criticism of the new Maps app, such that Cook himself ended up signing it. Some even suggest that this was the final straw.
Browett was criticized for his management of Apple's retail stores. He had cut back the hours of employees, and ordered them to spend more time selling products and less time on customer service -- despite the fact that Apple's stores make more money per square foot than any other retail store in the world. The result was some very unhappy employees at Apple Stores, employees who tend to be young, idealistic, and motivated. On Browett's departure, Cook took great pains to praise the dedication of the Apple Store employees, making it clear that he intended to treat them better in the future than Browett had.