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WSJ: Scott Forstall was “On Thin Ice” Even Before Refusal to Sign Maps Apology

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The Wall Street Journal has a follow up article to yesterday’s news of Scott Forstall being forced out of Apple. It has long been known Forstall had attributes similar to Steve Jobs, who first hired the latter to work at NeXT. A year ago, Businessweek profiled Forstall as a hot-headed executive that got things done even if it meant alienating his own team and colleagues.

Now, the WSJ sheds some more tidbits about what life was like at Apple with Forstall and how CEO Tim Cook has started to make his mark at the company.

As for any worries about Apple suffering from the loss of Forstall, that is no concern as the atmosphere has now turned much more positive with the departure of the iOS chief:

A person close to Apple said the company has a deep management and product development bench and that the newly empowered executives will ensure a more collegial atmosphere.

Forstall and Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive never got along–to the point where they could not be in the same room together:

Ive and Forstall clashed so severely in recent years that they avoided being in the same room together, said people who worked with both men. “They didn’t cooperate at any level,” one of the people close to the matter said. “They always let Steve decide.”

According to WSJ sources, Cook has been able to address personnel issues that Steve Jobs allowed to deteriorate. Jobs would “always cast the winning vote” in regards to disputes between leadership players, while Cook in contrast, has taken the opposite approach:

Still, people inside and outside Apple said Mr. Cook is trying to steady the ship. They have expressed relief that the Cupertino, Calif., company is run more smoothly than under Mr. Jobs, when employees lived in constant fear of falling victim to a Jobs’ tirade or a whim.

An example of Cook’s ability to manage executive personnel was his brilliant play to convince Apple’s hardware chief Bob Mansfield to forego retirement and keep working Apple:

Earlier this year, Mr. Cook coaxed Apple hardware chief Bob Mansfield out of retirement after his staff complained about working under his replacement, according to people familiar with Apple’s hardware group.

As for Forstall, fresh news puts “he was on thin ice” before he had even refused to sign the Maps apology letter, a sign this was a move long in the making:

Even before Mr. Forstall refused to sign the apology over the maps, he was on thin ice at Apple, said people familiar with the matter, despite fierce loyalty from some members of his team. He was widely seen as unwilling to cooperate with other Apple executives and political about his ambitions to play a greater role at the company.

Tim Cook has his clear stamp on Apple now, it appears. The new refined roles for existing executives show he isn’t afraid to eliminate opposing thorns, which Forstall has been made out to be. Definitely read the Businessweek profile on Forstall again–it seemingly justifies why he doesn’t belong at Apple today–his aggressive style is no longer appreciated at Apple under Cook’s leadership.

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  • Tom

    Honestly, I can’t get enough about these Forstall news. Keep them up! You’re doing a great job circulating this news

  • Thanks 😉

  • Yes. Love these stories. He was a loose cannon. To me, as I wrote on my blog, he was probably lost without Steve in the picture. No one to go to bat for him anymore. Kind of sad actually.

  • BugNo2

    I’m not buying it! Who on Earth gets fired for his “aggressive style”? Give me an example of how Forstall was counterproductive now but worked up to Senior Manager over period of 15 years under Steve. I am foreseeing Forstall suing Apple.

  • He likely had a vision for iOS that wasn’t shared by others in the company – at least not after Steve Jobs passed. And if he was particularly emphatic of his vision, others could see that as confrontational, stubborn, not being a team player, etc. If you’re the odd man out, you don’t last long. Couple this with releases under his watch that needed more time in development (i.e. maps & Siri,) his perceived value diminishes quickly. I’m thinking he must have seen the writing was on the wall but decided to stick to his guns anyway. I will be very interested to see what direction iOS goes from here. I feel like there are still some layovers from traditional point and click UI that linger in iOS that could be improved/replaced with more touch friendly interactions – particularly on iPhone screens. Pressing tiny little ‘x’ buttons to dismiss things can be aggravating.

  • I think Forstall selling off 95% of his Apple stock earlier in the year should’ve been a sign for us something was up.

  • To Scott Forstall’s credit, he was the one who championed using OSX as the foundation for iOS & he’s been instrumental in helping lead iOS to become the leading mobile platform. To me this sounds more like his personality not being fit for a culture at Apple without Steve Jobs.

    In the WSJ article, it states there were iOS team members fiercely loyal to him. Hopefully there isn’t an exodus of good iOS talent because of this.

  • Also agree. But hopefully that remaining team is willing to listen to good ideas that help improve the interface too!

  • anon

    Maybe Google will scoop him up. lol

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