Firing Forstall was a mistake, says former engineer

By , Nov 12, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s decision to fire the architect of Apple’s mobile and desktop operating systems was a mistake, according to former senior Apple manager Michael Lopp. He is calling for a downturn for the company and predicting that “Apple’s doom will start quietly”.

You may have noticed trending Apple doomsday scenarios as haters are having a field day painting the company’s recent moves in negative light. Forstall, Lopp says, “was old school”, the closest thing the company had to Steve Jobs. Lopp goes as far to claim Forstall was the only legit successor to Jobs “because he displayed a variety of Jobsian characteristics”

In a post over at his personal blog, Lopp opines Forstall channeled Jobs perfectly as both men shared similar character traits. For example, Forstall “was an asshole” and a very successful one, too.

As “the best approximation of Steve Jobs that Apple had left”, Lopp calls the former iOS boss “possibly the most talented operational leader on the planet”. Which is probably true.

Forstall, Apple’s former Senior Vice President of iOS Software, was ousted because he reportedly refused to accept responsibility in the Apple Maps fiasco.

“Apple needs a group of disruptors”, Lopp points out, and with Forstall’s departure the company has none of his caliber.

Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves here: after all, this is just one guy’s opinion.

 

Lopp in a 2008 Businessweek interview also gave a sneak peek at the Apple brainstorming process, it’s a worthwhile read. As for Forstall, nobody in their right mind would call his expertise into question.

Former iAd chief Andy Miller, who now heads 3D motion-control startup Leap Motion, calls him a miracle worker, praising the outgoing exec in an interview with Business Insider for his ability to meet Apple’s impossible software deadlines.

In hindsight, Forstall’s firing was long in the making as Apple’s youngest SVP was repeatedly described as too confrontational and hard to work with due to his abrasive management style. He often clashed with design guru Jony Ive and hardware boss Bob Mansfield.

Following his departure, Mansfield has been appointed the chief of newly set up division called Technologies which encompasses Apple’s wireless and semiconductor teams. Ive, with whom Forstall was reportedly rarely in the same room, has become the steward of Apple’s user experience, now encompassing both hardware and software design.

Analysts’ reaction to the shakeup has been largely positive.

The iDB team also believes Cook knows what he’s doing.

A more traditional manager that gets things done is necessary as Apple transitions from a monolith Steve Jobs structure to a more traditional corporation, which isn’t saying Apple will be less focused on innovation in the coming years – quite the contrary.

 

On the other hand, it’s indicative that Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal – both Apple’s unofficial mouthpieces – started pooh-poohing Forstall immediately after the shake-up announcement.

To me, this suggests a worrying trend, that Apple might be on a crusade to destroy its former executive’s reputation. Such a move is for sure going to antagonize engineers who used to work under him.

As for Apple naysayers, 2012 may have been Apple’s most important year ever. Giving Jony Ive too much power is a great idea, opines Mike Elgan on Cult of Mac.

And, a more pocketable Apple under Tim Cook has yet to see its finest years, writes Matthew Panzarino for The Next Web.

What’s your read on the future of Apple and Forstall’s departure?

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • jose castro

    apple has been making stupid decisions.

  • thedarkknight80

    I actually like the idea of Jony Ive being all over software .

    IMO that guy is an artist .

    Very curious to see what changes he will bring ….

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      he is a hardware artist… not UI which is why Steve left him where he is strongest..

      • http://www.facebook.com/masonicninja Michael Scott Allen

        Exactly right. Everyone was where they were because they brought the most value to the table. Now it’s less watered down, but it’s going to end up being too much of a good thing.

  • luckyarcher

    Jobsian characteristics eh? Broken & laughable maps? Same OS design for the past 5 years in the disguise of ‘simplicity’? Jobs was a risk taker. Forstall wasn’t. The only risk he took was a cringeworthy ego trip with his broken maps. Jobs always had the OS polished. This joke of an ‘Engineer’ never bothered to update the design. Is this guy talking out of his ass? He sure is.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

      “Jobs was a risk taker. Forstall wasn’t.” Exactly!

    • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

      Would you really want the design to change a lot?? Everyone would be bitching about having to get used to the new design over and over again. I am glad it’s the same as it is.

      • chjode

        It wouldn’t have to change drastically, but some UI enhancements would be nice. The basic iOS interface is essentially unchanged since they added folders in version 4 (I think).

      • http://profiles.google.com/limyongbin Wilfred Lim

        I guess UI is mostly fine (you don’t need keep chaging to make fancy like A device), but the features to maximize for users and more viable functions that ease works….those are really software size of work and progress really slow here…

      • luckyarcher

        We’re not talking of a major design overhaul, but surely the OS has to evolve. If this guy were still there, a couple of years from now it would be known as the new Symbian. Apple did the right thing by firing him because he made the biggest mistake all the winners make when they get in their comfort zone – refuse to innovate. Everyone’s been there – Nokia, Blackberry, etc. Apple needs to evolve, and Android has come a long way while Forstall decided to concentrate on introducing ‘stitching’ designs, etc which sucked monkey balls.

  • http://twitter.com/franklylife Frank Anthony

    Time will tell and the ios7 will judge. Finger crossed!

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      if ios 7 has the same boring grid layout it will be over for iPhone

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000514380051 John Sklikas

        I wish for a new design but the internet helps minorities and we at iDB are minorities of the iDevice owners. For most people the same design is something good because they are used to it and they would like only reasonable UI changes…

  • Andrew Weissman

    This definitely was an interesting decision by Tim Cook, but I think that it was one that was necessary. I do believe Jony Ive will bring some excellent design cues to iOS. Lets see how the changes affect the next batch of products.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      no

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    Steves death was the beginning of the end… Steve saved apple the last time they were dying… who will save them this time..???? iphone 5 may be my last iPhone

    • luckyarcher

      …this year :P

    • aj

      shouldn’t even have bought the iPhone 5

      the apple i knew had that oomph factor in their products.. they might not always boast the best hardware but they always had one ground-breaking feature that attracted customers

      in the iP2G it was the touch ui, iP3G it was the Apple App Store, iP3GS it was the actual speed, iP4 it was facetime , iP4S it was Siri and in iP5 it is the 4 inch screen… i mean c’mon man if i wanted just a 4 inch screen and better performance then i could have simply go and buy an android device

      bdw android devices offer better processors and ram as well.. i know that apple has never had the best hardware in the market but it still had that oomph factor which android phones had been missing.. and now after jobs is dead the apple in our hearts is dead too

      look at the iPad 4, surface and nexus 10 have much better specs and not just that, surface is a hybrid and the ppi on nexus 10 just kills th ipad 4

      and here comes the ipad mini, it has the specs of a 2 year old tablet which is 3 generations old (ipad 4, 3 and then comes the 2) with no quadcore, no retina disply… what am i gonna do with this crap…. i know that apple app store has so many more ipad-specific apps but i might as well use regular smartphone apps and pay just 199$

      nd now the nexus 4 comes.. i was shocked the nexus 4 which boasts quad core with just a price tag of 299$ for 8GB and 349$ for 16 GB (unlocked) has better hardware than the “iPhone” which is selling 199$ on contract

      we all have to accept the truth and move on.. apple can only go down from the level of success that it has reached and this happens to every company like microsoft and sony

    • Blake

      Are you on crack?

  • http://djterm.de/ Robo Term

    what do analysts and experts expect if they predict apple’s doomsday?

    why do they do that?

    so they can say “i said so” ?
    “ey, you better listen to me, because i predicted apples fall as 1st!”

    that’s so ridiculous and needless!
    who pays ‘em?

  • http://www.facebook.com/masonicninja Michael Scott Allen

    I used to work for Apple, specifically under Steve Jobs at the end of Lisa and into Mac Portable. I saw changes the day Steve passed away and I’ve been telling everyone that although Apple will not go away, without Steve driving the behemoth, their market dominance is over. The iPhone 5 for instance isn’t the phone Steve was working on. It’s a stretched out iPhone 4S. They didn’t want to do the 5 Steve was working on because frankly, nobody saw the direction he was trying to go. A lot of vision was lost when Steve died and it’s going to change the way Apple does business; dramatically at first since the company now has to be altered to match new management. Once the bumpy spots are ironed over it will be better, but this Apple loyalist just upgraded to a Lumia 920. That should be pretty telling.

  • http://twitter.com/benjirogue Quotes

    They can put lot of changes in UI but they need to pay for royalty

  • http://TechToTalk.com/ Ali Wadi

    I think that wasn’t a mistake and I hope that without him they will be more open and find a better replacement of that position to bring “new” to the OS!

  • maurid

    Damn, I thought he was quitting. He was FIRED?