Apple Execs Forstall, Browett to Leave the Company

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Apple dropped a surprise Monday afternoon by announcing Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall and Senior Vice President of Retail, John Browett, are leaving the company. Mr. Forstall will pack his bags some time next year, and it looks like Mr. Browett is already turning in his executive washroom key with only five months of service under his belt.

Apple to Forstall, Browett: ByeApple to Forstall, Browett: Buh-bye

Mr. Forstall's duties have already been curtailed and his official position until he leaves the company will be to serve as a consultant to CEO Tim Cook. Craig Federigi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Mac Software Engineering, will take over his day-to-day iOS-related responsibilities while continuing to handle his current job.

Siri and Maps will become the responsibility of Eddie Cue, Apple's Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services. Mr. Cue is in a good position to take on both products since he already handles the iTunes and App Stores, iBookstore, and led the company's transition from MobileMe to iCloud.

Jonathon Ive, who has already given Apple a long list of iconic hardware designs, will add OS and app interface designs to his plate, and the now-not-retiring Bob Mansfield will manage the just created Technologies group to bring together the semiconductor and wireless teams that currently are scattered across Apple's various divisions.

Mr. Forstall was in charge of Apple's own Maps app, which replaced Google's map system and app when iOS 6 was released this fall. The Apple Maps app quickly became the butt of jokes and a point of frustration with iPhone users because of inaccurate location data and missing features such as street view. The company dropped its advertising claim of the "most beautiful, powerful mapping service" shortly after iOS 6 launched.

Mr. Cook even published an open letter to customers apologizing for Apple's Maps performance and promised the service would improve over time. It's likely that Mr. Cook wasn't pleased with having to write the letter, and since Mr. Forstall was responsible for the project no doubt had to deal with the CEO's scorn.

Mr. Browett's transition out of the company looks to be a little more abrupt. According to the company, "A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook."

Apple hired Mr. Browett away from his job as CEO of the European tech retailer Dixons in April, and by August was facing criticism for cutting back on retail staff. He called the layoffs a "mess up" that resulted from a new formula for staffing stores.

"Making these changes was a mistake and the changes are being reversed," company spokesperson Kristin Huguet said at the time.

The Mac Observer's John Martellaro speculated that, once word surface claiming Mr. Cook had a hand in the retail staffing issue, Mr. Browett would eventually get thrown under the bus and take the fall for the incident -- and it looks like that may be what happened.

Apple said the management shakeup "will encourage even more collaboration between the Company's world-class hardware, software and services teams."

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]

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10 Comments Leave Your Own

DrDL

I suspect the only person that will regret Browett leaving Apple will be Steve Balmer. With John Browett leading Apple’s retail sector, MS at least had a chance of catching up with Apple’s reduced service provision. How anyone could have considered his work with Dixons as a suitable qualification for working at Apple is mind boggling.

geoduck

Won’t miss Browett. He seemed to be a lightning rod for issues.

Will miss Forstall. He and I seem to be the only ones that liked skeuomorphism any more.

Lancashire-Witch

I begin to worry about Apple.  Mr Browett was the wrong choice. Mr Forstall will be missed. The stock is down. The yacht looks weird. A MobileMe bug has found its way into iCloud. ...  i digress.

Surely someone senior at Apple visited a Dixons Retail store before Mr Browett was offered a job. If they didn’t, then someone in HR should go too. If they did, then whoever it was should go.

BakedAlaska

Forstall was the one behind the Maps oversell/underdeliver *and* the Siri oversell/underdeliver. He was also the most disliked top exec at the company - from last October:

“They say he has such a fraught relationship with other members of the executive team—including lead designer Jony Ive and Mac hardware chief Bob Mansfield—that they avoid meetings with him unless Tim Cook is present.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/scott-forstall-the-sorcerers-apprentice-at-apple-10122011.html

ilikeimac

Won’t miss Browett.

I was about to type those exact words. He was barely here and now he’s gone, leaving nothing but bad impressions.

Forstall on the other hand, I have mixed feelings about. It seems like it was about the difficult working relationships and not that Apple wants less diversity of design opinions. I like a few skeuomorphic design touches here and there, but not everywhere, and not when they stand in the way of making tools more powerful than their predecessors.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

What we’re seeing here is Jony Ive methodically slashing his way to Tim Cook’s prominent Adam’s Apple one senior executive at a time. It is still a crying shame that John Matuszak is long dead and unable to play Bob Mansfield in the movie. Man’s field, bitches! He is the only one Ive will spare in this extended bloodbath, because Ive needs him to make his beautiful creations come to life.

dhp

Yes, geoduck, I’m one of the many who hope Forstall leaving and Jony Ive taking over software interface design will mark the end of skeuomorphism—at least when it hinders usability. I look forward to the day when my state-of-the-art computer’s software calendar is not limited by the physical properties of a cheap, printed paper calendar.

Mr. Ive, can I please center “today” in month view, so I can always see two weeks ahead instead of only the last few days on the “page” for this month? Thank you.

jfbiii

Just in time for Halloween! Apple’s new megalomaniac rears his horrific English head at the Apple haunted headquarters. See executives flee in terror from his unibody instruments of UNEMPLOYMENT as he makes over Apple in his own image.

xmattingly

Maybe Apple will spend a few thousand out of their billions in cash reserves this time around, to scout out the status quo of an executive’s job experience, in person. Thrown under the bus or not, it seems like everyone was puzzled over the selection of Browett, given his track record prior to Apple. Or maybe Apple will just re-Mansfield and ask Ron Johnson to come back, where he’s most well suited.

Forstall. Well, he’s been with Apple for a very long time, and been a part of a number of Apple’s successes over the years. But as we all know, he’s also been behind some recent misfires - and what I personally find most distasteful - the ridiculous skeumorphism that’s become prevalent - and widely criticized - in OS X. Pair that with his abrasive Jobsian posturing (as BakedAlaska pointed out), and it looks like he’s outlived his usefulness, unfortunately.

One way or the other, I’m actually pretty enthused that Jony Ive is going to be taking on the UI. We’re talking about the guy who hasn’t had a single misfire in the entire time he’s been Jobs’ left arm (perhaps, barring the 3rd gen. iPod Shuffle). I think as a disciple of Dieter Rams among other greats, his fundamental approach to design will translate seamlessly to software. I’m hoping his influence will come up in the next OS X, and completely expect that Apple hardware and software will have even greater fit and finish as a result.

QuentinJames

Being British and having had experience of UK retailer Dixons (Browett’s last gig) I could see this coming a mile off. The exit of Forstall is a bit of a shocker.

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