Major executive shuffle ripples through Apple- Scott Forstall and John Browett were terminated...
Kevin William Grant
Published on
December 31, 2020

Apple is undergoing a major executive shuffle. Scott Forstall and John Browett were both fired.

The Scott Forstall Story

Apple fired the executives in charge of the company’s mobile software efforts and retail stores, in a management shake-up aimed at making the company’s divisions work more harmoniously together.

The biggest of the changes involved the departure of Scott Forstall, an Apple veteran who for several years ran software development for Apple’s iPad and iPhone products.

Scott was an important executive at the company and the one who most closely embodied the technology vision of Steven Jobs, the former chief executive of Apple who died a year ago.

This truly represents the termination of the Steve Jobs Era at Apple.

Forstall known to be ambitious and divisive and generated friction within Apple after the death of Steve Jobs, who had kept senior executives egos in check with his very assertive style of management.

While tensions between Scott Forstall and other executives had been mounting following the incident that sparked his firing.

After a high volume of complaints from iPhone customers about bugs in Apple's new mobile maps service, Scott Forstall refused to sign a public apology, dismissing the problems as exaggerated. This reaction from Scott Forstall seems puzzling because users rely on accurate map information for their daily work and survivall. Map accuracy is crucial to people's safety and efficiency.

Timothy Cook, Apple’s chief executive, signed the apology letter to Apple customers over the poor quality of the map service, in Scott's absence.

Scott Forstall will leave Apple early in 2013 and serve as an adviser to Timothy Cook until then.

Scott Forstall was a staunch believer in a type of user interface, skeuomorphic design, which tries to imitate artifacts and textures in real life.

Most of Apple’s built-in applications for iOS use skeuomorphic design, including imitating a felt-topped gaming table in the Game Center application and a wooden bookshelf in the Newsstand application.

Steve Jobs also a believe in skeuomorphic design. For example, leather textures were added to apps that mimicked the seats on his private jet.

Other executives, specifically Jonathan Ive, have always believed that these artifacts looked outdated and that user interface design on the computer had reached a point where such tricks were no longer necessary.

The John Browett Story

John Browett was the head of the company’s retail operations. John was also fired after a number of missteps. Apple said that a search for a new head of retail is underway and that the retail team would report directly to Tim Cook in the meantime.

The departure of John Browett was didnt shock anyone. In August, the company took the unusual step of publicly apologizing for a plan by John Browett to cut the number of staff in Apple stores. John Browett was never seen as a good choice to join Apple because he ran a British retailer that was viewed as more of a downmarket operation than Apple’s retail operations.

The Eddy Cue Story

Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple’s Internet services, will take over development of Apple maps and Siri, the voice-activated virtual assistant in the iPhone. Both technologies have been widely criticized by some who say they fall short of the usual polish of Apple products.

The Jonathan Ive Story

Jonathan Ive, the idolized head of industrial design at Apple, will take on more software responsibilities at the company by managing more of the Human Interface. Craig Federighi, who was previously in charge of Apple’s Mac software development, will also lead development of iOS, the software for iPads and iPhones.

The Bob Mansfield Story

Bob Mansfield, who previously ran hardware engineering, will lead a new group call 'Technologies'. This group will combine Apple’s wireless and semiconductor teams. Apple had ambitious semiconductor plans for the future.

Bob Mansfield had been exploring health-related accessories and applications for Apple’s mobile products.

Executive Meltdown Verged on a Family Feud

Scott Forstall, who trained as an actor, shared Steve Jobs's commanding stage presence at Apple events, often delivering his speeches with a pensive dramatic style that was reminiscent of Steve Jobs.

The relationship between Scott Forstall and Jonathan Ive degenerated to the point that the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together.