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.
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