Cook on firing Forstall: we needed to take collaboration to another level

As we’re counting down the remaining hours until Tim Cook’s first television appearance due at 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, Bloomberg Businesweek’s Josh Tyrangiel had way too interesting fireside chat of his own with Apple’s boss, resulting in a massive 11-page article. Cook spoke about the shake-up and ouster of long-time Jobs confidant and iOS architect Scott Forstall, describing the decision as a matter of taking collaboration at Apple “to another level”.

He also praised the skill sets brought to the table by SVP of Internet Software & Services Eddy Cue, SVP of Technologies Bob Mansfield, SVP of Industrial Design Jony Ive and the recently-minted SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, all tasked now with addressing the different aspects of iOS and OS X that happened to be under Forstall’s more or less direct control…

The lengthy Bloomberg Businessweek interview reiterates Cook’s belief that mobile and desktop each requires a different user interface paradigm, as opposed to merging the distinctively different experiences into one mess of an interface:

We don’t subscribe to the vision that the OS for iPhones and iPads should be the same as Mac. As you know, iOS and Mac OS are built on the same base.

And Craig has always managed the common elements. And so this is a logical extension. Customers want iOS and Mac OS X to work together seamlessly, not to be the same, but to work together seamlessly.

He’s mentioning Craig Federighi, depicted below, who as of recently oversees the development of iOS, Mac OS X and Apple’s common operating system engineering teams.

Federighi and a race driver demo new Game Center features at WWDC 2012

Mind you, Cook’s comment jives perfectly with both his previous toaster-refrigerator dilemma and Jobs’s famous analogy of PCs being like trucks. Eagle-eyed readers might point to earlier reports claiming Apple is secretly working on merging iOS and OS X into one giant monster.

This isn’t happening, according to Cook, as Apple has no interest to follow in Microsoft’s footsteps.

As you know, Microsoft’s monolithic kernel in Windows 8 and the unified code base support a range of devices, from the smallest smartphone screens to tablets, notebooks and desktop computers to television sets and all the way up to 80-inch wall-mounted displays.

As for the management shakeup, Cook had this to say:

So the changes – it’s not a matter of going from no collaboration to collaboration.

We have an enormous level of collaboration in Apple, but it’s a matter of taking it to another level. You look at what we are great at. There are many things.

But the one thing we do, which I think no one else does, is integrate hardware, software, and services in such a way that most consumers begin to not differentiate anymore. They just care that the experience is fantastic.

Sure, but why fire the guy who helped a great deal make Apple the most valued company on Earth by taking a sophisticated desktop operating system and slimming it down to fit a cell phone form factor?

Cook doesn’t address the topic directly:

So how do we keep doing that and keep taking it to an even higher level? You have to be an A-plus at collaboration. And so the changes that we made get us to a whole new level of collaboration.

I’m not sure whether that entails that Cook & Co. viewed Forstall lately as an A-non-plus player, though the comment certainly echoes such a notion.


What do you think of Cook’s shakeup argument?

And is Apple’s leadership being fair to Scott in their public comments?

Note: the top image is credited to former Apple designer Everaldo Coelho.