Apple fires software chief Scott Forstall over failure to sign Maps apology

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Scott Forstall

Apple has fired its senior vice president of iPhone software, Scott Forstall, apparently over his refusal to sign an apology for the much maligned Maps product.

Forstall’s axing is reportedly part of the biggest management shakeup at Number One Infinite Loop since the return of Steve Jobs in 1997.

Also given the boot was retail chief John Browett, who had been with Apple just eight months after having joined from UK retailer Boots.

The official press release from Apple gave the shakeup a typically positive spin, especially in the Tim Cook quote included in it:

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, 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.”

Forstall’s responsibilities will apparently be divided up among four employees: Craig Federighi, Eddy “the fixer” Cue, Jony Ive, and Bob Mansfield.

Federghi will take over Forstall’s responsibilities on iOS and OSX. Cue, who is currently senior vice president of internet services, will take over Siri.

Ive is set to have a much more hands-on approach at Apple. According to a press release sent out by the tech giant, he will “provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of industrial design.”

Mansfield was scheduled to retire but will stay on another two years in the company’s technology division.

“Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level,” the company said.

Tim Cook meanwhile has sent out an email explaining the situation a little further.

Of Forstall’s axing, he says:

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.

Cook is somewhat less thankful for Browett, although that’s reasonable given that he’s been at the company for much less time.

According to Business Week, Forstall’s relationship with the other Apple execs had also fallen apart.

He was very much a Jobs man, and according Andy Miller, the former head of Apple’s iAd group, “was as close to Steve as anybody at the company”.

Not all of Jobs’ children played nicely however. Forstall apparently had massive run-ins with Ive. In the end the knighted designer was always going to win that battle.

Consensus appears to be that keeping Forstall on as an “adviser” is a move designed to stop him finding a new home among any of Apple’s competitors over the next few months.

As Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky notes Browett was always something of square peg in a round hole.

His previous position had, after all, been with a discount retailer. How much could he really offer a company that prided itself on luxurious minimalism, right down to the finishes in its retail stores?

His budget cuts in the retail sector weren’t exactly met with enthusiasm by staff in the division, so don’t expect his farewell card to be too big.

The dull text of Cook’s letter:

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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