With trading halted on the New York Stock Exchange during the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy which has devasted so many lives in Caribean and other parts of the world, there couldn’t have been a better time for any public company to announce the departure of major executives — and that’s just what Apple did.
Apple announced that Scott Forstall, the head of iOS software, and Apple Store chief John Browett would both be leaving the company. Forstall will stay on until the new year; Browett appears to be out forthwith.
Scott was asked to leave Apple a move The Wall Street Journal is reporting as due to his refusal to sign his name to the letter of apology for the incomplete feature set and poor performance of iOS 6’s new Maps app.This is the first report we’ve seen about the specific refusal to sign an apology letter.
Added to the refused signature, says the report, Forstall sent the iOS team at Apple an email saying that they weren’t working on enough big ideas in mobile software, a move the may have tipped the scales even farther out of his favor. The failure, at least in the public and media eye, of Apple’s new iOS 6 version of Maps was unfortunate enough. Refusing to sign his name to the apology that then went out with just Cook’s signature may have been the deciding factor.
Forstall once tipped as a future CEO of the company, has been beset by a couple of high-profile software stumbles. Rightly or wrongly, he has been pegged with the blame for Siri and Apple Maps, two features where the consumer experience didn’t quite perform as advertised.We know about Apple maps thanks to the pokes and jokes happening on Facebook and twitter.
The Journal notes mounting tension among the Apple executive staff regarding Scott Forstall’s approach, which is rumored to have been confrontational and uncooperative. He’s also been reported as relying on his long association with co-founder Steve Jobs.
“Mr. Forstall’s departure came after mounting tension with members of Apple’s executive ranks. For years, senior executives had complained that he wasn’t cooperative and showed off his close relationship with Mr. Jobs.” – WSJ
“Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim,” Apple’s PR team wrote in a press release. As for Browett, “a search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook.”
Well I was actually surprised why would Apple leave Scott but this seemed as a good news to number of Apple executives — including famed design chief Jonathan Ive.But why is still kept as an advisor for one more year.Is the reason Knowledge transfer or something or Apple is trying not to let him snapped up by rivals like Google or Microsoft.It’s all about preventing Forstall from jumping ship. Noncompete agreements are not enforceable in California. They are in other states and jurisdictions, but not in Apple’s home state.
Apple did exactly the same thing with Tony Fadell, the former head of the iPod division. When Fadell left the company in 2006, Apple made him an advisor to Steve Jobs for a year. He was given a big salary and stock grant to keep him happy. Several years later, he emerged as the founder of Nest, a company that makes smart thermostats, and is completely unrelated to smartphones or media players.
Even though Forstall will be held as an advisor, Apple can’t handcuff him forever. Forstall is too talented and might just be taken by Google or Microsoft in the near future.
“Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles,” the release said. “[Internet software VP] Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps … [software engineering VP] Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X.”
So Craig in 2013 has the been the given the task of fixing the features Forstall was troubled by.Senior Vice President Eddy Cue will deal with Siri and Maps, while Jony Ive will cover the interface team, as part of his new, expanded role at Apple.
Browett came to Apple from UK electronics retailer Dixons, replacing the widely-loved Ron Johnson at the head of the Apple Store. An early plan of his to reduce staff numbers met with widespread criticism, and was subsequently walked back.
The WSJ also points to Browett’s departure as a failure to fit in with the corporate culture at Apple, along with recent mistakes in the retail arena, including a poorly-received staffing formula that favored saving money over providing a higher quality customer experience.
Browett has only been with Apple for nine months, but Scott Forstall was one of Steve Jobs’ favorite employees and has been with Apple since 1997.
Apple hasn’t released any of the specifics as to why Browett and Forestall are leaving Apple as we are assuming it’s because of their missteps in the last few months.But CultofMac posted what they felt was the cause for their leave which I agree too .Here is what they posted.
Reason for firing Scott Forstall
Siri: When Forstall pitched Siri during the iPhone 4S keynote, the personal assistant looked amazing. It seemed to understand everything Scott asked it and came back with quick replies. The actual product has been quite different though, and some have accused Forstall of over promising and under-delivering on Siri. It was supposed to be a huge selling feature of the iPhone 4S, but now it’s become more of an after-thought and joke.
Apple Maps: By now, everyone is well aware of the horrible reputation Apple Maps has earned. The sad part is, a lot of Apple Maps’ problems were fixable by the iOS development team before the launch. Forstall’s team rushed Maps out before doing a lot of quality assurance and checking their data for discrepancies in public record. The damage done to Apple’s reputation via the Maps mishap has been reason enough to get anyone fired, even Apple’s iOS wonderboy.Not only that even Tim Cook had to send a sorry letter saying Apple maps was faulty and could go into use other map apps from Google etc.
iOS development: While Microsoft has come out with an innovative new mobile operating system and Android has added loads of new features, iOS 5 and iOS 6 haven’t been as captivating. Yes, iOS is still an incredible product, but the skeuomorphic leather and wood grain interfaces that Forestall’s teams have added over the last two years have made iOS feel dated.
Apple needs to start making some daring steps with iOS to maintain their lead in the mobile space, and Forstall has not appeared to be willing to do so.There is nothing new in the OS which is like saying WOW in iOS.Most of the features it has, has been already done in Android much time before.
Ego: Steve Jobs was a brilliant visionary, known for demanding to have things done his way. Forstall has received unflattering comparisons to Jobs. There have been whispers that Apple’s senior vice presidents avoid having meetings with Forstall unless Tim Cook is present because he has become increasingly difficult to work with. Maybe sometime away from Apple will help Forstall’s leadership abilities mature, just like it helped Steve Jobs.
Reasons For Firing Browett
Not a fit to Apple: Ever since Browett took over retail operations from Ron Johnson he’s been trying to make his mark within the company. He hasn’t fit in with the Apple ethos and has caused a stir during his first year. It seems pretty harsh to fire someone because they don’t fit in right away, but Apple can’t afford to lose any ground on their retail operations.
He’s focused on revenues, not customers: Before coming to Apple, Browett was the CEO at the electronic retailer Dixons. His rep at Dixons was that he cared more about making money than helping customers. People were shocked that Apple hired Browett despite his reputation and it appears that those fears weren’t without warrant. Throughout 2012 Browett has come up with new Apple Store policies that have detracted from the customer experience. He’s tried to lower the number of Apple Store employees so stores become even more profitable, and has failed to see that people go to the Apple Store for the excellent customer service.
Do you feel this move was good by Apple considering the Siri and Maps failure ? Are you expect some significant changes in the direction of Apple’s mobile and desktop OS design in the coming years with this move ?