Scott Forstall Rejected an Apple ‘Apology’ for Maps, Says WSJ [Update]


The Wall Street Journal now reports on what was earlier speculated by Adam Lashinsky from FortuneScott Forstall was let go by Apple over his refusal to sign his name to the apology over Apple Maps. Moreover, sources note Forstall wanted to adopt a move we’ve seen formerly from Steve Jobs–not apologizing for its SNAFU like we saw with ‘antennagate’:

Apple Inc. executive Scott Forstall was asked to leave the company after he refused to sign his name to a letter apologizing for shortcomings in Apple’s new mapping service, according to people familiar with the matter.


Mr. Forstall argued that the company could address the outcry without apologizing as Apple had done when it shipped iPhones with faulty antennas a few years ago, one of these people said. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and others disagreed, these people said. Mr. Cook signed his name to the apology instead.

Boom. Looks like some people on the inside want to reveal what really went down with Forstall and other executives. With the passing of Steve Jobs, Forstall felt he was still ‘protected’ by the latter but according to sources, that wasn’t the case:

The departures also come as new fissures have emerged among Apple executives, after some took on new roles following the death last year of co-founder Steve Jobs, said people who have spoken to the executives. Mr. Forstall recently told people that there is no “decider” now that Mr. Jobs is gone, according to a person briefed on the conversation.

Others have now spoken out that Forstall did not think his iOS team was working hard enough:

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.

Not only that, Forstall was so difficult to work with at Apple he never quite fit in:

He rose quickly at the company and earned a reputation for risk taking. But he was also known as difficult to work with, and “never fit into the culture of Apple,” said one person familiar with the matter.

Regardless, Forstall in his new interim role as adviser to CEO Tim Cook puts him out of the spotlight. His profile was immediately removed from Apple’s executive bio PR page minutes after the announcement.

Update: Looks like the New York Times has the similar ‘scoop’ (via Daring Fireball) on why Forstall was forced out–again, he refused to to sign a public apology over Apple Maps:

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.

The report also goes into detail regarding the disintegrating relationship between Forstall and chief designer Jony Ive:

According to two people who have worked with Apple to develop new third-party products for the iPhone, the relationship between Mr. Forstall and Mr. Ive had soured to a point that the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together.

Update 2: the WSJ describes how the removal of Scott Forstall took place in a follow up article. Apple employees said they did not see it coming; as for senior employees:

Some senior employees learned about the exit of Mr. Forstall, Apple’s head of mobile software, just moments before the official announcement on Monday afternoon. At the time, CEO Tim Cook and two other executives assembled managers in the iOS mobile software group to deliver the news, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

Update 3: Om Malik over at GigaOM has spoken to his sources and here’s what he has to add about how this whole saga went down according to his insider Apple sources:

  • They were unable to confirm Forstall’s refusal to sign the apology letter, as detailed in the NYT and WSJ
  • Some employees quietly celebrated the ousting of Forstall; this was also reflected in the NYT report where one employee said: “This was better than the Giants winning the World Series,” he said. “People are really excited.”
  • The announcement was last minute and not initiated by Forstall; Engineers caught off guard and iOS/OS X teams heard about it minutes before it got out; this matches what the second WSJ report above noted
  • Many feel new iOS chief Craig Federighi will need to prove himself
  • Jony Ive taking over software is seen as an exciting move; Eddy Cue taking over Maps/Siri was also seen as a positive move
  • Internal strife between Forstall and other upper executives has been brewing for a while; sources confirmed Ive and Forstall had a rocky relationship as noted in the NYT.


  • Matthew

    It’s nice to see that Tim Cook is willing to apologize when his company does something wrong. A little humility is good, something that Steve Jobs clearly couldn’t handle.

  • Totally agree. Good manners are a thing of the past. Glad to see that Tim Cook is bringing them back to the present.

  • Werdner

    To kick a SVP out though, the Board was probably in on this so I’m sure there’s a good plan moving forward. Glad to see Ive is willing to be more involved

  • djepsilon

    Honestly not sure if agree with the ousting of Forstall. I personally don’t think the apology for maps was needed. iPhone 5 quality control issues though? Different story.

  • Robert

    Forstall sent an email to his iOS team about not thinking about big enough ideas in mobile? He should have used a whip instead! Hyah! iOS 6 betrayed me!

  • bradg17

    Well apparently Steve jobs was almost impossible to work with too sometimes. However if forstall was holding iOS capabilities back then maybe this is good lol

  • There was only one Steve Jobs, and he played himself perfectly.

  • It’ll be exciting to see his vision into the software side of things.

  • Maps was a pretty big ‘problem’, when you consider how it did not work as advertised compared to Google Maps.

  • Forstall is a mini Steve Jobs with all the attitude.

  • Fahad Mahmood

    My respect for Tim Cook just skyrocketed. The admitting of mistakes at a corporate level is a very brave and bold thing to do. And seeing how Forstall felt the iOS team wasn’t working hard enough on the big ideas, that’s true. But the apology, I’m very pleased to hear that. I take back everything I said about Cook. Morals and ethics are more important than my Maps not taking me to Starbucks.

  • Fahad Mahmood

    Woah! Come to think of it, what if this was a plan to kick him out, so iOS could move forward at a much faster pace?! I’m sure the team tried to convince Forstall to add some features, which he rejected.

  • Ryan

    I agree that Forstall had to go, but the fact that he thought the iOS team wasn’t doing enough and that was a cause of friction worries me. They’re not doing enough and will his departure really change that for the better?

  • I agree but as far as I know they knew that maps don’t work. Stab someone Intentionally and then you say you’re sorry?!

  • Interesting opinion. No doubt, iOS needs more functionality. I would like to se more innovation.

  • djepsilon

    Chalk it up to difference of opinion. My experience might be different then a lot of peoples but I honestly don’t have anything negative to say about Apple maps.

    Do you not agree though that if they apologized for the maps SNAFU they should have done the same for the quality control issues? Who’s fault was that and how come they aren’t being fired?

  • KJ

    Neither I use the maps every day in Calgary and have no problems..
    sounds to me a bunch of babies crying for the bottle…also I’d never apologized. There is no need

  • The quality issue was a concern but it did not affect everybody, like Maps in iOS 6. Sure they could have said something but then again it might have set off a fire storm of returns. Those that had issues did get replacements already.

  • BugNo2

    What if iOS 6 was not ready due to Forstall’s not getting enough time to have it finished? Why would a hardware launch dictate software development’s deadline? They are two different things and more than often cannot be made on the same date. What if Forstall told them all this and Apple still wouldn’t budge? Thus they hated the guy, probably calling him incompetent, polarizing against him… Then when it all goes wrong, Forstall gets fired because he wouldn’t take the blame in writing. Who doesn’t believe this theory?

  • My take on the matter based on what reports are saying is Forstall was closely tied to Jobs and basically acted like Steve. With Jobs passing away, Forstall was left alone and his prior alienation of his colleagues had caught up to him. He must’ve been a real hardass for them to oust him like this.

  • BugNo2

    Or that is just the line everyone will say to get rid of the fall guy. I think my theory is much more plausible. I mean–how did he act like Steve? Was he straight up with everybody and said: “Maps are not finished and cannot be finished in time for iPhone 5 launch, so don’t force it or users will not accept it well!”. Gary, if that makes one a “hardass” worth chucking under the bus, then WTF!??!?!

  • Forstall has always been profiled as a difficult person to work with, akin to Jobs. Of course we don’t know the backstory but if employees on his team quietly ‘cheered’ his firing, that tells you something about him not being a team player.

  • BugNo2

    They also “quietly cheered” when John Scully fired Steve Jobs. Gary, only reason they fired the guy after 15 years is because he wouldn’t save their collective asses by playing patsy by publicly blame for error that CEO made. It would piss anyone off, specially if he predicted the future of half baked maps angering users.

  • Scully didn’t know anything about technology. Forstall is a genius.

    We can probably expect to see him jump aboard the sinking RIM ship, #AMIRIGHT?

  • BugNo2

    Doubt he will be doing anything for a long time. Same reason he is not talking about what actually happened–multi million severance package includes gag order.

  • BugNo2

    …as well as no competition clause…

  • Comment made with tongue in cheek. Forstall is done for a while.