Forstall’s Out At Apple

October 29th, 2012

Apple announced a major management shake-up today: Scott Forstall is leaving the company, Jonathan Ive is now responsible for interface design across the company, and Eddy Cue’s Internet Software and Services group is now responsible for Siri and Maps. Oh, and Bob Mansfield will take charge of a new group called Technologies, and will be responsible for Apple’s wireless teams and semiconductor teams, which have “ambitious plans” for the future.

That’s a lot of change. John Gruber suggests Forstall was forced out as a result of tensions within the management team due to disagreements over skeuomorphic UI design and his polarizing approach. I don’t know why, but there’s been a number of rumors in the last year that Forstall’s approach and ambition were abrasive to others in Apple’s team. It appears those rumors were accurate.

I found those reports worrying at the time because they indicated that Apple’s management team, or at least members of it, weren’t working well together and were taking their battles to the press. Hopefully this move will eliminate tensions within the team.

It’s interesting, too, that Ive is now in charge of user interface design. Ive has led industrial design for the fantastic products Apple has released since Jobs returned to Apple, so Ive has been as responsible for Apple’s incredible success as anyone else. Now, he will be responsible for not just the hardware design of their products, but the software design, too. As much as Apple is now Cook’s company, Apple’s products are now Ive’s products. I absolutely think that is a positive change for Apple. I hope, though, that it doesn’t result in too many roles for Ive.

Nearly as important, though, is the consolidation of Apple’s web software and services under Eddy Cue. Cue is now in charge of Apple’s stores, iCloud, Siri and Maps. I think this indicates that Apple believes the web is integral to their future and is working to make it a part of their identity. The web is not just an element in a greater product—it’s going to define Apple’s future with Siri, iCloud and other services. They seem to think so, too.