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October 30, 2012

Maps debacle sees Forstall fired at Apple

Head of iOS Scott Forstall leaves along with retail boss John Browett as Cook responds to recent controversies

By Steve Evans

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple has announced a major shake-up at management level, with two senior execs being shown the door.

It is the biggest change at the company since founder and CEO Steve Jobs resigned in 2011.

Head of iOS software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino next year but will remain on board as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook until then.

Forstall is paying the price for the iOS 6 maps debacle, when Apple dumped Google’s mapping software in favour of its own. As soon as the software was available users started to complain about its quality, with roads and even entire cities being mislabelled or even missed out completely.

So severe were the problems that Cook was forced to issue an apology and even suggested users switch to an alternative mapping app until Apple had fixed the problems.

Forstall joined the company way back in 1997, having worked with Steve Jobs at Next, before that company was bought by Apple, which returned Jobs to the company he had founded. Forstall was credited as one of the brains behind the Mac OS X operating system, and had been tipped by some to be an eventual boss at the company.

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The other executive departure is retail boss John Browett, who only joined the company from Dixons in April 2012. He caused a furore recently when it was revealed he wanted to cut back on staff numbers at Apple stores in an attempt to boost profits. The plans were leaked and Browett eventually changed his mind.

In a statement Apple said the management shake-up was an "attempt to increase collaboration across hardware, software and services". As well as the two departures a number of other executives have added more responsibility to their roles.

Design chief Sir Jony Ive will lead what Apple calls "Human Interface", suggesting Apple’s minimalist hardware designs will soon migrate across to the software wide as well. The BBC suggests that Forstall’s approach was at odds with Ive’s, which may well have been causing friction at Apple.

Craig Federighi will now lead both iOS and OS X development, while Eddy Cue will take on responsibility for voice recognition software Siri and Maps. Apple said this will mean its Services division will now control the development of these, alongside iCloud, iTunes, the App Store and iBookstore.

Finally Bob Mansfield will lead a new group called Technologies, which will combine all of Apple’s wireless divisions into one.

Big changes like this are rare at Apple; until Steve Jobs stepped down and Tim Cook took over the management team was almost unchanged from the one Jobs installed when he returned to the company and began its revival.

"We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history," Cook said. "The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services."

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