Apple ousts Forstall, head of iOS, and hands over cloud problems to its cloud guy

October 29, 2012
October 29, 2012

The man once called Apple’s “CEO-in-waiting” and the “sorcerer’s apprentice” is on his way out the door.

Apple just dropped this press release:

Apple today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Forstall was responsible for building iOS, the software created to power the original iPhone. The success of iOS has catapulted Apple to the top of the mobile world. But more recently, some gaffes have hurt Apple’s image. Forstall oversaw both Siri, the voice-recognition personal assistant that Apple launched with the iPhone 4S, and Apple Maps, which came out with the latest iPhone. Both were released in beta, and neither were in the shape most customers had come to expect of a finished product from Apple. Maps, in particular, was a huge letdown to users who had gotten used to the flawless operation of the Google Maps app in previous versions of iOS.

Maps and Siri are now under the purview of Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of internet software and services, who also oversees iTunes, the app store and everything else that Apple does in the cloud. In hindsight, it’s only logical. As Quartz’s Christopher Mims has written, the fracas over Maps was a sign of Apple’s lack of experience in building complex data-processing systems that work in the cloud. Giving Siri and Maps to Cue is a recognition that making them work is a quite different challenge from building a good phone operating system. They are cloud problems, and need to be handled by the cloud guy.

Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Forstall was asked to leave after he refused to sign his name to a recent letter apologizing for the problems with Apple’s mapping service. Apple also removed its new retail chief, John Browett. The Journal says that’s because he made mistakes and didn’t fit in.

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As for the photo above, many of Apple’s retail stores, like this one on New York City’s Fifth Avenue, display and sell their electronics from below ground level. According to CNET, Apple employees wrapped display items in plastic to guard against a flood.

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