When a company is at the top of its game, major leadership shake ups are rare. However, that rare event is exactly what’s happening with Apple. In a press release, Apple announced that both retail chief John Browett and iOS chief Scott Forstall would be leaving the company. The later will also involve a restructuring of how Apple works as a company.
Timing of the Announcement
First off, let’s address the timing. Annoucements of this magnitude are generally done following a quarterly earnings call. That way it doesn’t take away from the earnings call or an end of quarter major event. By the next quarterly call or event, things will generally have blown over. Apple also chose a day where both Google and Microsoft had major announcements and though unplanned, it also falls on the day where a historic storm hits New York City. Yet looking at the Twitter feed, none of this buried this story in the least.
Reasons for the Change
The shakeup involves executives John Browett and Scott Forstall. Two men on opposite ends of the spectrum. Browett joined Apple in January 2012 from UK electronics retailer Dixons and his extremely rocky tenure lasted only nine months officially. That being said, it wouldn’t be out on a limb to assume he had lesser authority for some of that time. End of the day, his style which favored profit at the expense of the customer service that Apple stores are known for, was simply incompatible with Apple’s culture. He was allowed to stay just long enough to collect his first 5,000 shares of Apple stock. Beyond that, any kind of golden parachute is unknown.
Now former iOS chief Scott Forstall, on the other hand, was on Steve Jobs’ team at NeXT when the firm was absorbed by Apple in 1997. His fall from grace is particularly tragic since Forstall was a key contributor to the user interface development of both Mac OS X and iOS. In fact, there was a time when some wondered if he would be the man to succeed Steve Jobs at Apple’s helm. Just a couple years later, he has had some very notable failures in Siri and the Google-less iOS Maps. There were also reports that he was very difficult to deal with after Steve Jobs’ death. As a result, he has been stripped of his leadership position and exiled to being an “advisor” to Tim Cook before leaving the company in April of 2013.
Filling the Gap
As for their responsibilities, Apple will immediately begin a search for a new head of retail. Hopefully one that fits Apple’s culture this time. In the meantime, the retail arm will report directly to CEO Tim Cook. Forstall will not be directly replaced and his responsibility will be absorbed to by Senior Vice Presidents in a major realignment of the company.
All design responsibility hardware and software alike now rests in the hands of Jony Ive. The iOS and OS X teams will be under the leadership of Craig Federighi. This should allow for better integration in the future. The troublesome Siri and Maps responsibilities have been transferred to the online services group under Eddy Cue along with Apple’s stores and iBooks. Recently retired and then almost immediately unretired Bob Mansfield will lead a new technology group with responsibility for wireless technologies and the semiconductor group.