Firing Forstall was a mistake, says former engineer

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?