October 29, 2012: Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iOS software, was kicked out of the company after the disastrous launch of Apple Maps.
Apple shares roles previously played by Forstall, which once looked on its way to the top, among other senior executives. Jony Ive takes over the leadership of the human interface team. Craig Federighi becomes the head of iOS software. Eddy Cue takes control of Maps and Siri. And Bob Mansfield is “retiring” to lead a new technology group.
Scott Forstall and his rise in Apple
Forstall’s departure caused one of the biggest upheavals in Apple’s executive since Steve Jobs ’return in 1997. An ambitious young employee, Forstall quickly climbed through the ranks in Cupertino. As he accumulated power behind the scenes, he began to appear more often at Apple events.
Forstall has worked for Jobs his entire career. He is employed by NeXT, a company that Jobs founded during the wilderness years outside of Apple, directly from Stanford University. With a master’s degree in computer science, Forstall worked on the NeXTStep operating system.
He joined Apple along with a number of senior employees when the company bought NeXT in 1996, an acquisition that brought Jobs back to Apple. Jobs immediately appointed Forstall to be in charge of designing user interfaces for the new, improved Mac line. His great contribution? The fluid-inspired Aqua user interface, which includes design elements such as transparent icons and reflections.
Forstall then took over OS X, which was based on NeXTStep technology, before becoming one of the leading figures in iOS development. In late 2011, he took the stage on the iPhone 4s to show Siri for the first time.
The beginning of the end for a rising star
Following in Jobs’s footsteps, Forstall even drove the same type of silver Mercedes coupe as the legendary Apple co-founder. He also showed great attention to detail and a similar kind of charisma. (Forstall was more confident than many technological types, since he was a child actor.) As proof of the former, he kept a jewelry magnifying glass in his office, allowing him to examine every pixel on the user interface in detail.
Outside of Apple, some people have speculated that Forstall could become the company’s CEO. But after Jobs left, Forstall seemed to have lost momentum in Cupertino’s halls. One possible reason? A power struggle with Ive, arguably Apple’s most prized human fortune after Jobs. In particular, Ive and Forstall clashed over skeuomorphism, which Forstall loved and Ive hated.
New CEO Tim Cook also preferred a more harmonious atmosphere at Apple than Jobs did. While Jobs loved strong conflicting personalities, Cook reportedly disliked them.
The launch of Apple Maps leads to Forstall’s dismissal
The incident that led to Forstal’s dismissal was Apple’s catastrophic Apple Maps software. Probably the most prominent Apple software malfunction of all time, the application proved to be a bug and underdeveloped compared to its rivals.
In addition, iOS 6 featured a watch app that illegally borrowed a Swiss railroad design, resulting in Apple paying out $ 20 million.
Given that Maps came across quite a bad press on Apple, an agreement was made to write an official letter of apology – which Forstall refused to sign. The move reportedly convinced Cook that Forstall should leave.
Scott Forstall after Apple
After leaving Apple, Forstall remained largely off the radar – with the exception of co-producing the Broadway show and advising Snapchat. In May 2015, he made one of his rare public comments about Apple The Wall Street Journal, saying he was “thrilled” that Cupertino was still making great products.
Forstall also gave several interviews in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone launch.
What are your memories of Scott Forstall at Apple? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
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