Apple Reshuffles Deck, Cans Forstall and Browett

Apple’s (AAPL) recent ills of late may may have come as a surprise to some, but with Siri performing with mediocrity at best, the debut of iOS 6 Maps a resounding failure, and two straight quarters of lower than expected earnings, something needed to give at Apple. On Tuesday, that something gave and on the outside looking in was former Vice President of iOS Scott Forstall and Senior Vice President of Retail John Browett.

Forstall’s departure initially came as a shock as he had been with Apple for 15 years and was once considered a Steve Jobs protege who would take over once Jobs left, but as news came forward from Cupertino insiders, it seems not all was well inside 1 Infinite Loop. Reports of Forstall clashing with other executives, his long standing disagreements with Sir Jony Ive, and his refusal to accept responsibility and publicly apologize for the iOS 6 Maps fiasco are listed as the three main reasons insiders cite for his dismissal. The New York Times reported earlier that the “strong headed” Forstall had been butting heads with executives for quite some time, and his disagreements with Jony Ive over design elements had led to the two not even wanting to be in the same room together.

The final straw as reported by the Wall Street Journal was Forstall’s refusal to publicly acknowledge a problem with iOS 6 Maps, basically forcing Tim Cook to face the media and the press himself. As the news spread around the Apple campus, it seems that Forstall’s “resignation” was met with jubilation and celebration. Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Mac Software and Engineering, sees his role expanded and will oversee iOS; Senior Vice President Eddy Cue will take the helm of righting the sinking ship that is Siri and Maps.

Now former Senior Vice President of Retail Operations, John Browett had a much shorter reign at Apple at only 7 months. Browett’s hiring was much of a mystery as he was the head of Dixon’s, a discount chain in the UK famous for bad customer service and customer experiences. In the past seven months, he somehow managed to alienate many Apple Retail employees, increase customer dis-satisfaction, and tarnish Apple’s retail image. Controversial changes he implemented for Apple’s staffing formula were quickly reversed by Apple executives. Policies and procedures invoked by Browett regarding customer complaints and how to deal with them were also quickly overturned. It’s interesting to note that Browett was Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first major hire since taking over Apple after the departure of Steve Jobs. It only seems appropriate that while searching for a replacement for Browett, Tim Cook will temporarily take over Apple Retail.

Both of these changes are not only good for the future of Apple but they’re needed as well. With the Apple executive board all on the same page again, we can look forward to phones and software that “just work” and the “customer experience” that was so important to the late Steve Jobs.

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