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: 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."
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