Yesterday, Apple announced some significant executive changes within the company. One of the most notable changes is that Scott Forstall, Apple’s VP of iOS, would be stepping down from his role at the company. Many have wondered why Forstall is leaving. According to a multitude of sources, the answer is: He was forced out.
Why would Forstall – who has been with the company since NeXT was acquired by Apple in 1996 – be forced out? There appear to be a number of reasons, most of which are creative and ideological differences between Forstall and the Apple Elite.
While tensions between Mr. Forstall and other executives had been mounting for some time, a recent incident appeared to play a major role in his dismissal. After an outcry among iPhone customers about bugs in the company’s new mobile maps service, Mr. Forstall refused to sign a public apology over the matter, dismissing the problems as exaggerated, according to people with knowledge of the situation who declined to be named discussing confidential matters.
Instead, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, in September signed the apology letter to Apple customers over maps.
John Gruber also pointed out on Daring Fireball (in a quote from Fortune writer and Inside Apple author Adam Lashinsky) that Forstall may also have clashed ideologically with Jony Ive over the issue of skeumorphism in Apple’s software designs:
It is being said that Forstall didn’t get along with Jony Ive. The knighted designer won that battle. Apple named him the chief of all “human interface” on Monday. Reading between the lines, that means software in addition to hardware. Design lovers hated the paper “shredder” that Apple introduced with itsPassbook product. Ive, a fan of minimalism, must have hated it too. Watch for Apple to kill it.
NYT also shares another interesting tidbit that seems to corroborate Lashinsky’s comments:
According to two people who have worked with Apple to develop new third-party products for the iPhone, the relationship between Mr. Forstall and Mr. Ive had soured to a point that the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together.
Meanwhile, Jony Ive has now been given responsibility over all Human Interface matters at Apple – meaning he will have a significant role in the design of future Apple software products.
It’s sad to see Forstall leave – but it will be interested to see what direction Apple takes iOS in his absence!