Scott Forstall — the departing Apple executive who'd become the public face of iOS in his role as head of mobile software — may have met his demise when he refused to put his name on the apology letter Apple released several weeks ago, a rare show of contrition from Cupertino when its revamped (and Google-free) Maps product fell short of expectations at the release of iOS 6. The New York Times and CNNMoney are both reporting the story this evening; we've heard similar from sources as well.
Forstall had his enemies inside the executive ranks, sources say
The exact circumstances of Forstall's refusal are unclear, but not entirely unexpected: it's widely understood that the hard-charging, ambitious Forstall is abrasive and disliked by a number of others at his level inside Apple — people like head designer Jony Ive, who allegedly refused to take meetings in the same room as him. Forstall, who had been in charge of Maps, is said to have believed that the complaints over data quality were overblown — a belief so strong that he ultimately refused to sign the letter apologizing for the debacle (the letter released to the public ended up bearing CEO Tim Cook's signature instead).
Sources tell us that Forstall has a reputation for deflecting blame, and with fallout intensifying over the Maps situation, now may have seemed like a good time for Apple to part ways with a man who'd done a good job making enemies over the years: Hurricane Sandy has given the company two days of market close to let investor reaction stabilize. Amazingly, it's said that Forstall's coworkers were so excited to show him the door that they volunteered to split up his workload — Eddy Cue takes on Siri and Maps while OS X's Craig Federighi gets iOS. And Ive, who has cemented his reputation as a legendary industrial designer over his two-decade Apple career, gets the opportunity to refresh an iOS user experience that has stagnated over the last several generations. A recent Fast Company report suggested that Ive and Forstall didn't see eye to eye on the platform's UI — Forstall is said to love so-called skeuomorphic interfaces that imitate real-life objects (leather binding, wood, paper, and so on) while Ive is firmly against them. How swiftly — and how comprehensively — Ive will seek to revamp the platform will be a source of intense focus going into 2013 and iOS 7.
For his part, Forstall just cashed out over $38 million in Apple stock earlier this year, so his landing — after he completes his role serving "as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook" for the remainder of 2012, of course — will be a soft one.