Multitude of reports allege SVP of iOS, Scott Forstall, was asked to leave Apple

More details reportedly emerge on SVP of iOS, Scott Forstall, leaving Apple

Now that Apple has announced that senior-vice-president of iOS, Scott Forstall was leaving the company, amid storms and market-closings, various additional information is surfacing on the story, at least from Apple's perspective. Namely, it's now being claimed that Forstall was fired.

First up, Mark Gurman from 9to5Mac got his hands on the memo Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, sent to employees following the news, which unlike the press release, takes the time to thank Forstall.

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.

However, Adam Lashinsky from Fortune is being told that things weren't so happy behind Apple's famously closed doors.

It is being said that Forstall didn't get along with Jony Ive. The knighted designer won that battle. Apple named him the chief of all "human interface" on Monday. Reading between the lines, that means software in addition to hardware. Design lovers hated the paper "shredder" that Apple introduced with its Passbook product. Ive, a fan of minimalism, must have hated it too. Watch for Apple to kill it.

Lashinsky also says Forstall refused to sign the iOS 6 Maps apology letter, something echoed by Nick Wingfield of the New York Times:

While tensions between Mr. Forstall and other executives had been mounting for some time, a recent incident appeared to play a major role in his dismissal. After an outcry among iPhone customers about bugs in the company’s new mobile maps service, Mr. Forstall refused to sign a public apology over the matter, dismissing the problems as exaggerated, according to people with knowledge of the situation who declined to be named discussing confidential matters.

Instead, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, in September signed the apology letter to Apple customers over maps.

Chris Ziegler of The Verge has heard likewise.

Sources tell us that Forstall has a reputation for deflecting blame, and with fallout intensifying over the Maps situation, now may have seemed like a good time for Apple to part ways with a man who'd done a good job making enemies over the years: Hurricane Sandy has given the company two days of market close to let investor reaction stabilize. Amazingly, it's said that Forstall's coworkers were so excited to show him the door that they volunteered to split up his workload.

Om Malik of GigaOm claims Forstall's departure wasn't planned long in advance, and that reaction inside Apple has been largely positive.

Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups. Or as one of my sources quipped: there are a lot of people going for celebratory drinks, even if there is a little bit of doubt about their roles in the future.

Again, all this reads like Apple's perspective on the matter. Jessica E. Lessin of The Wall Street Journal also repeats the maps and apology letter story, but then offers some perspective from whats seems like Forstall's perspective. First, that he believed Apple could handle maps without apologizing, but also:

Mr. Forstall recently told people that there is no "decider" now that Mr. Jobs is gone, according to a person briefed on the conversation.

Mr. Forstall also recently sent some members of Apple's iOS software team an email saying that he felt the group wasn't working on enough big ideas in mobile software, according to a person briefed on the email.

If there was indeed a power struggle or a contention as to who would guide Apple's products going forward, however, it seems inarguable that Forstall lost. It also seems like Apple was willing to make hard decisions and to sacrifice even extremely talented, long tenured individuals for what they felt was the good of the company moving forward.

If it came down to a choice between Jony Ive (and Bob Mansfield) and Scott Forstall, or of Tim Cook's leadership and Scott Forstall's ambitions, it's tough to argue the call. It's not so tough to see the faith and trust being put into Jony Ive and his design sensibilities, which have so far been manifested more in hardware than software, and Craig Federighi's engineering skills, which have only recently earned him the top spot in OS X, never mind iOS.

This is either an Apple -- and more specifically a Tim Cook -- as rightly confident in their ability to manage people as they are in their ability to project product, or an Apple already fraying at the seams about to experience another serious escalation in load and stress.

I'm very much hoping it's the former.

Source: 9to5Mac, Fortune, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Verge, GigaOm

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 34 comments. Add yours.

RoboCop85 says:

Trouble in apple paradise. Lol The end is not near for apple boys yet but it starts with things like this. Wonder if Jobs would have given the green light to this flawed maps app it the first place. Probably not. This would have probably kept one of the worlds most successful exec teams intact. No way to spin this they are losing valuable piece of the puzzle that made Apple what they are today. Fact!

henrymagnusrex says:

Are you some 15 year old who plasters the word, "fact" after every opinion they spew?

RoboCop85 says:

Are you a loser that can't handle the obvious truth? I think so.

9thWonder says:

what i sometimes wonder, along with would, Jobs have green lit the maps, but smaller design thing. Like would he have had the podcast app layed out the way it was. For me it didn't rely align with my impression of jobs' streamlined approach. that apps seems a bit convoluted. You jump from one part of the app to the store. I even find the Maps app amazingly weird. i know it's the layout from the old maps app but they never put much effort into that. the current one seems a bit weird. Even the change to the grey theme in the music player. I wonder if Jobs would have said, nope keep it white. I kinda liked white.

kralnor says:

There seams to have been quite a disagreement over the paper shredder.

benjimen says:

The use of the word 'details' in the headline should really have been replaced with 'rumor and speculation' ;-)

Stevejobs96 says:

he will be missed... i am putting next to go is Johnny ive!!! than before we know it apple will start making plastic phones... I would go live in north korea before i buy an android phone!!!

JNGold says:

I'd sooner buy a Windows Phone than any Android device.

S.Mulji says:

in Walter Isaacson's book, Steve Jobs called Jonny Ive his "spiritual successor." So I don't think Jonny is going anywhere anytime soon. Besides that, he responsibilities just grew to overlooking the design direction for hardware AND software.

okli says:

Right U are... many people who left Apple, called Scotty a egomaniac and a man who is difficult to work with... its a very good thing for Apple future... now is the Jouny... CEO in waiting !!!

JAL Payen says:

Robocop85 could have not put it better. I am a proud but careful Apple fanboy, and Robocop85 is totally correct about Apple's executives going down together later in time. If products are not ready, they must not be launched at all. Forstall is right about the exaggerations, but the product was not ready. I mean maps and Siri.

bembem8x8 says:

Apple CEO Tim Cook has done that since Steve Jobs left.bed like Tim Cook and do not escape the shadow of Steve Jobs.I think Tim Cook to find his own one way.good success thanks!
http://www.kizi4.info

Dozer78 says:

Scott Forstall's departure is not a good thing for Apple. He was the only bright spot after Jobs passed away. He has a commanding presence and a certain flair dare i say swagger about him. This man should have been in my mind the future face and voice of Apple. Him leaving seriously makes me question Apples future for the first time since Steve Jobs died.

rchartier says:

Really? The only bright spot? Have you ever heard the name Jonathan Ive? He was Steve's best friend and go to man. He is the lead designer for the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPod, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and iPad mini. The guy is the main reason (besides Jobs) that Apple has sold hundreds of millions of devices.

And that swagger you talk about, apparently he was quite the a$$shole who didn't like to admit when he was wrong. It was always everyone else fault but his. Not a chance I would want that for the face of Apple.

In my opinion, this is great for Apple. Ive in charge of the "Human Interface" now will give iOS a new look that it has needed. It was and is becoming stagnant.

I am a huge Apple fan and have owned many iPhones. I will always be an Apple fan, but to me, this is no where near the end for Apple.

9thWonder says:

Apple could not release a new product for two years and i don't think it would be "the end" for them. They have a ton of good will built up. whether it's good or bad i may never know.

mfaircloth says:

I have to agree with the person above who is sad about Scott leaving. Your line "and that swagger you talk about, apparently he was quite the a$$shole who didn't like to admit when he was wrong. It was always everyone else fault but his. Not a chance I would want that for the face of Apple"-that PERFECTLY describes STEVE JOBS

I think Apple is great but the iOS is old and boring. I have the iPhone 4 and I can renew but I have not even thought about getting the iPhone 5. After the first 20 minutes, looking at the new screen size and messing with Siri what is there? I just think they need to freshen it up. I understand that the typical Apple cycle is- release new iPhone, release boring OS update-refresh iPhone, release newer better OS update- Example: (iOS 5, super upgrade; imessage, notification center,BOOM all the reason in the world to change there; iPhone 4s same phone). (iOS6; Do not disturb...maybe??; new iPhone 5 redesign cool) the problem is I am not sure what else there is they could do. Apps get old and boring and no one really uses more than 5 daily at the most.

I will indeed upgrade to the iPhone 5 because next year the iPhone 5s will not be new. It is key to be on the correct upgrade schedule with Apple. As far as the iPad goes...haha. I have the iPad 2 and since then they have released an exact copy with a faster chip TWICE. The same case fits the same device.

okli says:

@Douzer78...... is that U.... Scotty.... DUDE... beam me up

RoboCop85 says:

Jony Ive will be Apple's next CEO/Chairman when they are done with Mr. Stiffy/Cook. Jony is very captivating when he speaks. He does a way better job describing and introducing new apple products than Cook or anyone on the apple team. Cook is robot. You can tell Ive is passionate about creating and delivering the best product. Cook just doesn't have it and the decision to ok the flawed maps app proves it. Jony is next.

9thWonder says:

"no "decider" now that Mr. Jobs is gone."
"group wasn't working on enough big ideas in mobile software."

Sounds like the maps was screwed up and it may have been time to go. That being said, just as an outsider looking at the products they are releasing, hardware and software, i 1000% agree with his quotes above. I haven't seen a big idea in quite a few project launches. ipad mini? yeah just a shrunk ipad. nice but nothing to wow me. Iphone 5? Just LTE and a hardware upgrade. Nice, i like it but nothing no big ideas just hardware upgrades. IOS 6, Navigation is a great addition but weakly delivered but positive but not better then free Waze either. Maps is a step backward, and honestly there's nothing in ios 6 that wows me. App store, less functional then before.

I don't see high standards of "the decider", someone saying this is how it must be. I don't see "big ideas" I see coasting on a good market position. I'm not saying they are bad products, because they products before ipad mini, iphone 5, ios where already solid, but i think in a big picture sense Apple's recent stuff is solid but not wowing. And maybe that will be good enough. My question is for how long in a crowded market that's changes quickly.

RoboCop85 says:

Thank you!!!! You are spot on!

Hey-Zeus says:

I agree. I bought my son an iPhone 5 and once I played around with it my enthusiasm for it came back down to earth. I really don't see a reason yet to update my 4S. Maybe next year...

Rob White says:

Even more interesting is the question of where does Scott Forstall wind up. He certainly has name recognition & experience. Amazon? Google? Microsoft? RIM? Any of these competing companies could provide a new home to someone so knowledgeable of Apple's inner workings.

Industrial espionage anyone? Yet another missile for the mobile patent wars? Hmmmm......

primaking26 says:

Some people see in this is the total lack of leadership of Tim Cook .. Unable to weld his team.
Steve Jobs did more than 10 years with the team and Tim Cook in less than a year has managed to crack ...
For some, this is Tim Cook Apple's problem, because yes apple has a problem, it loses its image of an innovator firm replaced by a Financial Holding.

Tim Cook and his friends will spend more time to stay in power instead of moving Apple forward.
The real punishment may come from the competition and consumers disinterest.

Forstall has not only been on iOS projects but since the beginning of OSX he was one of the first system architects and a part of what apple is today . He may go elsewhere, and imitate Rubin to fight apple.
Look at what happened with Steve Jobs and the creation of Next .... Will history repeats itself ?
20 years ago apple had to fight Microsoft, today you have to add Google, Samsung etc...

primaking26 says:

Some people see in this is the total lack of leadership of Tim Cook .. Unable to weld his team.
Steve Jobs did more than 10 years with the team and Tim Cook in less than a year has managed to crack ...
For some, this is Tim Cook Apple's problem, because yes apple has a problem, it loses its image of an innovator firm replaced by a Financial Holding.

Tim Cook and his friends will spend more time to stay in power instead of moving Apple forward.
The real punishment may come from the competition and consumers disinterest.

Forstall has not only been on iOS projects but since the beginning of OSX he was one of the first system architects and a part of what apple is today . He may go elsewhere, and imitate Rubin to fight apple.
Look at what happened with Steve Jobs and the creation of Next .... Will history repeats itself ?
20 years ago apple had to fight Microsoft, today you have to add Google, Samsung etc...

mjs416 says:

It is quite funny to see a company full of egomaniac's try and play nicely together for the benefit of the company.

cardfan says:

Refusal to sign an apology letter? That sounds pretty stupid. It wouldn't make sense for it to come from anyone else other than Cook.

I wouldn't have signed it either. You don't apologize for your product. You stand behind it. If it's broken, fix it. But you still don't apologize. Jobs would never have sent out this letter.

I see an Apple making outstanding products but getting a little lax on the ecosystem side of things. But it's the marketing that really has fallen off.

Perhaps it's a good thing for Apple that MS is self destructing.

DM52 says:

Microsoft is self-destructing? Since when? Yes, they recently reported their first quarterly loss, but they've also posted record revenues, and were able to explain the loss away very well. On top of this, they have plenty of assets and intellectual property to sell off before they're anywhere near gone.

Aside from that admittedly minor point, I pretty much agree with you. Something seems to have changed post-Jobs, and certain aspects of Apple seem to have dipped. For me, it seems like they're now trying to capitalise on the popularity of existing products as quickly as possible, which includes additional hardware releases, as well has the lack of ecosystem you've mentioned (I assume this pertains to software, and the issues frequently mentioned).

cardfan says:

When I say self destructing, I don't envision them being "gone." I just mean they're doing things to hurt themselves and help their competition. Windows 8 is a desktop disaster but JMO.

You should never have to explain why you charge your premium at a marketing event. That whole ipad mini demo was painful to watch. With their past retina marketing, you don't talk about your inferior bigger screen is somehow better. You don't compare your product to an old ipad 2. You don't brag about using the older A5. Rebrand that older chip and call it A6L or something.

In fact, you don't mention the competition. Your story is that it's a tablet. An ipad. 275000 tablet apps. It looks and feels incredible. Heck, Jobs would've laid down on a couch during the demo while showing how it's done.

This is an Apple that's apologetic for Maps and also needs to apologize for or explain it's premium pricing as well?? Maybe the new motto will be "we're sorry" under Cook.

Dev from tipb says:

While in most cases I detest skeumorphic design (whether championed by Jobs or Forstall), I think there is a lot of history-written-by-the-winners going on here. Yes, Forstall is abrasive. Yes, he played political games -- though there is little on-the-record evidence he did so any more than any other high ranking exec at a BigCo. Yes, as the overall person in charge of Siri and Maps, two uncharacteristically underbaked Apple releases, perhaps he needed to fall on his sword, or be pushed onto it.

However, let us not forget that, at a time of warring between internal camps at Apple, Forstall was by far the biggest champion of building mobile devices around a modified OSX base, rather than use any available embedded OS options. When his side won, it set the stage for all the mobile goodness that powered Apple's unprecedented growth over the last decade. Without him, there would be no iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. (You can go back earlier, and say without Forstall, there would be no cat series of OSX, either.) Without those contributions, there would arguably be no Apple left -- certainly not as it exists today.

So yes, he apparently was a jerk, and apparently did not play well with others in Cupertino. Apparently it was time for him to go. But his contributions deserved more than a backhanded one-sentence formality of a thank you buried midway down a press release extolling others.

Ipheuria says:

I find that asking "Would jobs have...." is like saying what if I bought the lottery ticket 1 hour later? 1 hour earlier? It just doesn't make sense because Steve is not here to make decisions. I was also shocked to see that Forstall was leaving but I think it's pretty funny when people say this is the beginning of the end for Apple. A company with so many employees and one guy who is actually not the CEO is going to ruin it? If Steve was taken away and Apple is still puttering along with a huge crapload of money I think they can stand to lose Forstall. It will be interesting to see where he goes now and also what he does? Will he start his own company?

plunder says:

The problems with both Siri and Maps seem to be down to pushing the envelope, on these rather "Google style" projects. I think Apple needs an adventurous side, but could present it as "in development" instead of "ready to roll".

Siri demands a lot of processing power at both ends. Simply understanding a human voice can be hard, let alone making a positively human reply to it. If that project had been presented as "a development project" the impact would have been the same and no apology could be expected for a buggy start. Who made that decision - Scott or Tim?

Maps and navigation are hard to get right. Google have been working on it for years, so have Nokia. Perhaps Apple simply jumped the gun here. Again, had this been presented as a "development project" it might have been less of an issue. I simply don't believe that decision was purely down to Scott. If that is the reason he was fired, Tim is at least partly to blame.

If Apple create the ethos of never making a mistake - they are bound to fail. If they don't try new things, they WILL fall behind. In short, this is a presentation issue, not just an engineering or managerial issue. Perhaps Scott's personality just clashed with other key people, to the point when it had to be dealt with. These things happen in all companies, why not Apple.

parvezjj says:

Scott Forstall to RIM? haaa, anythings possible..

strathacker says:

Well, to anyone who reads this, I'm just going to say this. I'm friends with Scott and if there's one thing I have gotten from him it's that he really and truly believes in Steve Jobs' vision. I am saddened by this and feel as though the last vestige of Steve has been handed his hat. Scott's a great guy and I am thankful to know him. I'm not comparing this in any way to what happened when Steve was asked to depart his own company, but I will say this, don't be so quick to be thankful for this because Maps gave you a wrong turn one day. I, for one, am not pleased.