Internal shake up at Apple accelerates the Apple “turn” – come on, you knew it was coming

// October 30th, 2012 // Mobile

Reminiscent of the Jobs expulsion a few decades ago, Scott Forstall was ousted from Apple yesterday, regardless of what Apple may or may not admit. His design taste, abrasive personality, aggressive risk taking, belief that Apple was not working hard enough on “big ideas”, and of course, the iOS Maps fiasco, all rubbed Tim Cook the wrong way. Where Steve Jobs could rein Forstall in and employ his imaginative talents (Forstall has been with Apple since the early 90’s and was close to Steve Jobs), Cook would rather have a smooth running machine rather than one that includes a crewmember willing to play devil’s advocate. Fact is, the turning of Apple (and yes, Apple is “turning” right now) has very little to do with Forstall and more to do with the business decisions that have been coming from the top.

Let’s face it folks, Scott Forstall was forced out by a transparent “play” where he was asked to leave the company after he refused to sign his name to a letter apologizing for shortcomings in Apple’s new maps service (see our previous article where we pointed out the idiocy of apologizing for Maps). Forstall felt the disaster could be handled without apologizing, in the same manner the iPhone 4’s antenna mess was swept under the rug. Instead, Cook had to sign the letter all by himself and bear the brunt of the responsibility for the Maps failure. You see, Forstall is known for taking aggressive risks. Both Siri (another product rolled out by Apple too soon) and Maps were both Forstall’s babies. Both were good products, but both were rolled out too soon, a decision that ultimately rode on Cook’s (and Job’s) shoulders, regardless of how hard Forstall pushed to get his baby out the door. Forstall’s job was to make good products. Cook’s job was to deliver them to the public. Other factors came into play but in a nutshell, Forstall rocked the boat and Cook gets seasick too easily.

All is not lost however. Cook also announced that Forstall will act as an “adviser” to Apple for one year. Interpret that as “Forstall was given X amount of money to hold off jumping to Samsung or another hated Apple competitor for at least one-year which gives us plenty of time to finish completely destroying the Apple brand that Jobs worked so hard to create”.

In other news, Eddy Cue takes over the Maps line of business as a reward for his stellar job on iCloud [sarcasm] and we’ll see if Jony Ive’s new “product design” responsibility is any easier now that Forstall is not in house to play devil’s advocate. In addition to Forstall, Senior Vice President of Retail, John Browett was also asked to leave following “missteps and management tensions”.

NOTE: for those that feel Apple is not “turning” right now, we offer this:

  1. Apple has missed Wall Street’s expectations for two consecutive quarters.
  2. Apple has lost its dominant position in the mobile segment and shows no signs of getting it back.
  3. Siri was a disappointment when released as “beta”. An unusual move by Apple and indicative of a company that is not paying close enough attention and/or one that is becoming complacent.
  4. Maps. Need we say more.

Tim Cook’s message to employees:

Team,

We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history. The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October – iPhone 5, iOS6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications – could only have been created at Apple, and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.

Today, I am announcing changes that will encourage even more collaboration between our world-class hardware, software and services teams at all levels of our company. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi will be taking on more responsibilities. I am also announcing that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to me during the interim. I want to thank Scott for all of his many contributions to Apple over his career.

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his longtime role as the leader of Industrial Design. Jony has an incredible design aesthetic and has been the driving force behind the look and feel of our products for more than a decade. The face of many of our products is our software and the extension of Jony’s skills into this area will widen the gap between Apple and our competition.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps. This places all of our online services in one group. Eddy and his organization have overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store, the App Store, the iBookstore and iCloud. They have an excellent track record of building and strengthening our online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X. We have the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems on the planet, and bringing together our OS teams will make it even easier to deliver our best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms. Craig recently led the very successful release of Mountain Lion.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of our wireless teams across the company in one organization, allowing us to innovate in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include all of our semiconductor teams, who have some very ambitious plans. As part of this, I am thrilled to tell you that Bob will remain with Apple for an additional two years. Bob has led some of our most challenging engineering projects for many years.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. Our search for a new head of Retail is already underway. In the meantime, the Retail team will report directly to me. Retail has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level, and they will continue the excellent work they’ve done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services and a focus on the customer that is second to none. This phenomenal team of talented and dedicated people works their hearts out making our customers happy. They have our respect, our admiration and our undying support.

Please join me in congratulating everyone on their new roles.

I’d like to thank everyone for working so hard so that Apple can continue to make the world’s best products and delight our customers. I continue to believe that Apple has the most talented and most innovative people on the planet, and I feel privileged and inspired to be able to work with all of you.

Best,

Tim

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