From inside Apple, the Scott Forstall fallout

77 thoughts on “From inside Apple, the Scott Forstall fallout”

  1. “Unlike the Jobs era, when the company would ship features when they were ready for primetime, a culture of schedule-driven releases has become common place.”

    That seems to be common place now – Look at MS & Google. They’re all on annual release cycles. This is not necessarily a bad thing. When it’s time to ship a major feature, you ship it. In between time you iterate and improve.

    1. This sort of griping about supply issues totally misunderstands the scale of the Apple’s task.

      Show me a single other company that even needs to have 5 – 10,000,000 units of a complex product ready to go on product release day, let alone does this on an annual release cycle, and does it with such complex materials.

      In terms of material supply, supply chain, manufacture and delivery what Apple does is unique – I’m amazed that they pull it off each year.

    2. The iPhone problem is caused by high demand and by the fact that it is a bit more complicated to manufactured, with a lot of technical changes being implemented for the first time. These will be resolved with time and may have been by now.

  2. What a great time to release the news. I wonder if it was timed this way. Bury big news from Microsoft and Google and the Market can’t react negatively because it is closed for two days because of Hurricane Sandy. By the time the market reopens the Apple faithful will have spun this as a great thing. If this was planned Tim Cook is brilliant.

    1. What this shows sir, is that Tim Cook did not act impetuously or reactivel and summarily dismiss these guys on day one of their screw ups. A good CEO gets a plan and players in place first. Certainly you aren’t suggesting that Cook was waiting for a natural disaster of historical dimensions (for Christ’s sake, NYC and other eastern seaboard cities shut down their subways, not to mention the NYSE shutting down).

      Give the man credit for making important executive decisions, and signaling to the world that Apple is no longer a one-man company. If this doesn’t inspire shareholders, then they’re complete fools. Apple is here to stay, with a new legacy. I gained more respect for Tim Cook today than I ever could have otherwise, because I firmly believed that this was essential for him to do.

      1. The Google and Microsoft announcements were on the calendar though. Those he could have planned for. Steal some thunder and word space from MS and Google. I wasn’t suggesting he was waiting for a natural disaster but maybe he just used it to his advantage.

  3. once again, the only major complaints on maps came from a lazy tech press regurgitating two stories a thousand times before any customers had them in their hands. For me, in the US, Apples new Maps has worked perfectly and as advertised. Even perennial Apple basher Consumer Reports has as said it is comparable to Google maps in performance. 200 million people have upgraded to iOS according to Apple, yet if maps was as bad as the last echo chamber press says it is, why aren’t there lines of people returning the iPhones? The press wanted to make a story out of nothing, as they did with attenagate.

    1. look – I live in Italy (one of their biggest customers in the eu) and the maps app suck! most towns are not where they really are, some satellite pics are black/white, and if i search for “pizza” only three restaurants pop up on the map – my town has more than 60 of them.. it’s a crap app!

      1. Robert M: typical of the stupid #### who forgets the US economy is just over 20% of the world economy. Sould Apple give a S(*t about the other 80%? Should the 80% give a S(*t about Apple? At the moment the answer to both is undoubtedly yes, but give it twenty years or so, and people like you keeping the same attitude, and who knows?

      1. In your head works fine for most non tech people, its Antenna gate, all over again wait until the iPad Mini comes out there will one or two non issues blogged all over the net.

    2. Here’s what I have gotten from press reporting on Apple Maps. Tom Tom routing in some major metro areas is working ok. But that it is by no means universally on par with Google Maps. Where the real problem happens is in points of interest. There is simply no depth of location information.
      Yelp helps with some POIs. But tying routing to location searches in Apple Maps does not meet current standards.

  4. “The time-based schedule is one of the reasons why Siri and Maps arrived as half-baked products and were met with derision.” Never was a software fully-baked! There are always improvements over time.

  5. Quoting John Gruber doesn’t make a lot of sense. Gruber is a Jonny-come-lately (in other words, where was Gruber during the NeXT era? He doesn’t grok the NeXT facets of Apple which touch both Forstall and Federighi). The Apple acquisition of NeXT really was more of a reverse merger (NeXT acquired Apple), but with Forstall gone, Steve passed away, Avie Tevanian retired and Bertrand Serlet onto new endeavors, what we’re likely seeing here is some culture shifting under Cook. Does Ive really get software enough in order to charge into the UI space? Or maybe he does and wouldn’t it be cool if Ive looked back at some of the great UI stuff they did in NeXTSTEP and re-envision that going forward (instead of the skeuomorphism of today). I also predict Cook, Ive, Mansfeld, Cue, Schiller and Federighi will take more steps with Apple into enterprise (don’t forget Cook hired the former United Continental Airlines CFO for VP of Sales and this guy will also be focusing more on enterprise). Further, Federighi at NeXT was in charge of Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF). So you see, Gruber doesn’t have any of this important NeXT context so why cite him?

    1. Gruber watches Apple pretty closely and often has pretty interesting opinions on the company. It doesn’t seem like he needs to have worked at or reported on Next for that. If that’s your complaint, why stop there. Where was he when the Apple][ came out? Or the original Mac.
      It’s not like this article relies much on Grubers opinion much anyway.

    2. Replying to this article doesn’t make any sense. GigaOM is a Johnny-come lately, it started a full FIVE years after the NeXT/Apple merger. I suggest you direct your comments to a blog that was actually around during the NeXT years that can grok the NeXT facets of Apple.

    3. User Interface wise, NeXT had its own quirks. I mean the icons were artistic masterpieces but the whole UI lacked something as basic as pervasive drag and drop for example. Contrast this to the Mac OS where almost any text or graphic could be dragged and dropped. Even to this day, I cannot drag a file over to a proxy icon at the top of a OS X Finder window to perform a quick copy/move (this worked well in classic Mac OS though). Also pre-OS X, the Finder understood the concept of metadata and file types not tied to a files extension. Some of these changes were because Tevanian (who I mostly admire) did not think these were really important. Matter of factly, Tevanian and lot of the NeXT engineers did not get what made some of user experience aspects of the classic Mac OS great. Which is why we ended up with the whole FTFF meme or folks like Tog who kept beating the whole spatial Finder mantra to the point of annoyance (even though I agree with most of that argument).

      Everyone from NeXT was associated with the Enterprise because that was their focus. This however doesn’t mean that Apple will once again head back into that area. Matter of factly, it makes no sense because no one in the Enterprise can take them seriously on the backend hardware/software considering how they discontinued the Xserve and how they totally mutilated OS X Server. Furthermore, even when Apple was trying to make headways into the Enterprise, Jobs never provided that sales and support group with a lot of resources. Last of all, Apple’s penchance for secrecy is at complete odds with how IT deals with planning where they want roadmaps sometimes looking at least 5 years out.

      1. Apple penetrating the enterprise doesn’t mean they have to build servers or develop server software. It could just mean that their devices see increased usage in the enterprise & act as clients to already existing servers. I read somewhere that Apple’s beefed up their enterprise sales force to help with this.

    4. Funny you would mention Serlet and Tevanian; both of them were present at the iPad mini unveiling, seated RIGHT behind the executive team.

      Also, I noted that Forstall and Ive were on opposite ends of the exec team row. Not a coincidence.

      (scoot to the end of the video after Cook ends it to see this)

  6. Forstall seems like one of those people who hasn’t quite found his own voice. Maybe he needs to take a “long walk in the wood,” like his mentor. He could come back a changed person.

  7. Siri was released as Beta with the iPhone 4S. Granted Steve Jobs passed away very soon after the 4S event, but he was still involved in the development of that product while he was acting as CEO. So this “schedule -driven” issue isn’t a “post steve jobs” thing. They needed some big piece of functionality that would separate the 4S from the 4.

    Okay so Maps was a schedule based release. It had to be a schedule-driven release because Apple’s iOS schedule and needing to get Maps out before Apple’s contract with Google expired (see Gruber’s post about this: http://daringfireball.net/2012/09/timing_of_apples_map_switch).

    If your only proof of “schedule-driven” releases are Siri and Maps, i think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  8. I’ll miss Scott. He was always an impressive presenter and clearly believed in his products. I imagine after he has some time to decompress, perhaps self destruct, or hopefully spend some time with his kids he’ll come back and he’ll be a huge asset to another company. Hopefully he ends up more humble than Rubby did though.

  9. “The time-based schedule is one of the reasons why Siri and Maps arrived as half-baked products and were met with derision.”

    That may be a fair criticism of siri, but the maps schedule was almost certainly driven by the expiration of the google map data agreement; not due to some cultural shift in the company. Love him or not, John Gruber provides some good commentary on this issue at http://daringfireball.net/2012/09/timing_of_apples_map_switch .

  10. *Scott Forstall is leaving Apple*

    The corporation’s best potential CEO has walked out, just as the first cracks begin to show.

    Cook is doing nothing more than disposing of rivals. He is deaf to the voices of critics, at a time when the corporation is rightly being criticised. Apple has peaked and must now face decline like Nokia and RIM.

    Apple is trying to spin this as a good news story. It’s a shame commentators pass on the propaganda line without scrutiny.

    Meanwhile, Apple’s latest results are disappointing and show a heavy reliance on iOS and especially iPhone which is now being eclipsed by much cheaper and much better devices.

  11. There are two sides to every story. We may never hear both sides of this one. If he refused to sign an apology for one of Apple’s recent series of epic failures, it’s reasonable to conclude that he had compelling reasons — e.g. the buck actually stops with him and not his boss.

    1. Apple failing? Ha..Ha..if apple’s failing what’s Google with Motorola doing? or Amazon with minus 300 million loss last quarter? i think you are very confused.

  12. The ‘collaboration’ phrase from Tim Cook in the PR was key I think. Reading the tea leaves, it sounded like the other VPs are able to challenge each other, but work together towards a shared objective. Forstall appears to have been trying fill Steve’s shoes as the aggressive holder of the ‘vision’, and the rest of the executive team wasn’t buying it.

  13. Apple in self-destuct mode: Scott Forstall leaving the company

    The corporation’s best potential CEO has walked out, just as the first cracks begin to show.

    Cook is doing nothing more than disposing of rivals. He is deaf to the voices of critics, at a time when the corporation is rightly being criticised. Apple has peaked and must now face decline like Nokia and RIM.

    Apple is trying to spin this as a good news story. It’s a shame commentators pass on the propaganda line without scrutiny.

    There are two sides to every story. We may never hear both sides of this one. If he refused to sign an apology for one of Apple’s recent series of epic failures, it’s reasonable to conclude that he had compelling reasons — e.g. the buck actually stops with him and not his boss.

    Meanwhile, Apple’s latest results are disappointing and show a heavy reliance on iOS and especially iPhone which is now being eclipsed by much cheaper and much better devices.

    1. Scott would never have been CEO! If SJ wanted him as such, he would have planned for it. SJ wanted Tim Cook! Scott is no Rival of Tim. Not even on the same plane of existence. Scott was only liked by the iPhone team because he bought them off with stock options and high salaries. No one else at Apple likes Jonny Neutron.

      1. “No one else at Apple likes Jonny Neutron.”

        So I take it you hang out everyday at the Apple campus cafeteria asking every iOS engineer if they like Forstall & they told you this?

        Believe it or not, Forstall had people loyal to him. Hopefully they don’t up and leave. Apple needs all the talent they can get.

  14. Celebratory drinks, indeed…

    Scapegoating and schadenfreude do not point to a healthy corporate climate, and is especially heinous given the current runaway success of Apple’s mobile sector in spite of the hateful, jealous mud-slinging by those competitors and their shills who have been devastatingly wrong-footed by the disruptive brilliance of iOS and OS X.

    I sincerely hope I’m wrong about the causes, but all this infantile talk about subjective reactions to skeumorphism in software design and the blame game about inevitable bugs in the huge undertaking of replacing the titanic Mapping resources of Google would appear to have given some “empire-builders” within Apple the chance to wield spiteful knives a la Julius Caesar.

    No doubt searching questions will likely not be entertained in the aftermath, and we’ll see if the traditionally-friendly heavyweight interviewers like Walt Mossberg will be allowed to ask frank questions on the issue, and what answers will be forthcoming.

    As the tale unfolded in The Water Babies, we have just seen the stage entrance of the cosy Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By, and now we await the inevitable appearance on the scene of the stern Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did…

  15. Here’s the real question to ask (your sources): are the people celebrating the departure of Forstall happy because he was a tough taskmaster? Did no one like him because he was most like Steve Jobs in terms of demanding certain things be done by such & such deadline, no matter the personal sacrifice? I can imagine that no one liked working for Jobs too, but because of his aura & mythical status, it was perceived as a badge of honor to get Steve’s nod of approval. My guess is Forstall didn’t have his own RDF & when he tried to be like Steve, everyone around him revolted :-/

      1. After being SVP at not just the most valuable tech company but the most valuable company overall worldwide, & raking in tens of millions, you really think he’s going take anything short of a CEO position at these companies. And that’s assuming he wants to work there. More than likely I see him starting his own venture.

  16. Hmm. Not being much of a financial or business-type analyst, I can only say that as for a regular Joe-blow who’s been with Apple products since 1984 and followed everything very closely, this kind of think makes me deeply uneasy.

    Jobs would never have allowed such brouhahas to develop, or would have found a way to distract the public from them. But all this reminds me uncomfortably of around 1996 . . .

  17. Scott started at Apple as a Java engineer from NeXT. Then made the UI manager, when nobody else wanted it. Too much interaction with SJ. Scott’s knick name was Jonny Neutron. Scott had very little, if anything at all to do with Mac OS X, other than implementing with SJ told him to do. He was a nobody for the first 9 years he was at Apple and had (has) little respect. He did take a chance on creating the iPhone team. Or should I say he was allowed by SJ to take the best people from Mac OS X and forced them onto the iPhone team. Scott was somehow able to snow SJ. Something very people could do. Must have been the haircut.

    1. So if what you say is true no one else wanted to stick their neck out and Scott Forsall was able to come up with iOS from the core of OS X which in turn was used on the iPhone and iPad. Sounds good to me.

      Imagine if Linux had been used, the iPhone and iPad would have been forked by Google like Amazon and Samsung are doing to Android.

    2. Assuming you’re right, then you stuff about Federighi, who’s also from NeXT. What’s your opinion of him? I’m not sure how capable he is of running the OS teams.

  18. “Many engineers inside Apple could foresee problems with Maps. Why? Because Maps were driven by a time schedule. … The schedule-driven release culture makes folks less daring — why take arrows in your back for failing to deliver a radical new feature on a pre-dictated time?”

    That’s bad logic and history shows it not to be true: the first four iPhones iterations were released roughly at one year spans:
    2007 June: iPhone
    2008 July: iPhone 3G
    2009 June: iPhone 3GS
    2010 June: Phone 4
    Apparently, when Jobs was alive, hitting a schedule wasn’t an issue.

    Furthermore, companies like BMW set new model cycles every seven years to promote innovation and to train their customers to budget for new releases. BMW seems to have no problems with “scheduled innovation”.

    1. You’re right. There is nothing wrong with scheduled innovation. This article makes it seem like you can’t take risks or innovate if there’s strict schedules, which is not true. It just means you have to use better judgement as to what features you let in during said time. And the ones that can’t get held till they can.

  19. I’m not sure I understand the “schedule-driven follies”: You can have schedule-driven development, but still only include a feature if it’s ready. Apple Maps would not have been a problem, had it been released as a beta app, complementing Google Maps until it’s ready to be the main app.

  20. There really should be more criticism of the iTunes and AppStore software. It’s bloated – particularly iTunes on Mac – poorly designed, and devoid of innovation. To redo their search capability, they acquired Chomp, and that has been nothing short of a disaster. Search results are not only worse, but they’re much harder to navigate. Just one example.

  21. Apple maps both suck and perform quite well. They are quite good when going from one well trafficked destination to another, but can’t find their way out of a large parking lot. My personal opinion is that most users find the app adequate because they never go anywhere interesting. 🙂

  22. A Cookian Apple must obey Cookian rules.

    A Jobsian Apple must obey Jobsian rules.

    Two different trains of thought ENTIRELY. Let time take its course. We can’t predict anything as of now. Let’s just wait for the future.

  23. One of the things i hate about apples map app is the lack of property bounderies. That was in google maps for every country i ever needed maps for. Now you see streets but everything else feels like lost in (blank) space. That one lost feature is a significant step backwards.

  24. I have to disagree on Jobs-era Apple not being schedule-driven. Jobs introduced new iDevices every year. A new iOS every year. The truth of the matter is that Forstall messed up and didn’t want to admit that the data was inaccurate. Siri is going to be half-baked until it gets enough voice data. People forget that Google had a crazy head start in voice recognition thanks to launching GOOG-411 in April 2007.

  25. If what you say is right about schedule based operations, then it is the beginning of the end of the apple as we knew it. People like jobs are rare, and cook is no jobs. How can you put a timeline on perfection? Or innovation for that matter. Apple is coming away from their core competency, and becoming a regular company. And it shows, it is the first time i have seen apple copy someone (mini) these are signs that the man at the top is striving to be mediocre, at best. It would be very sad to see apple starting to slip! I wish they took a different path from what they are doing now — playing catch-up!

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