Apple management reshuffle: The who, the why, and the next

Apple management reshuffle: The who, the why, and the next

Summary: Two significant senior Apple executives are out of the technology giant without an explanation. Who will win out of the management shuffle, and who could be vying for the chief's chair next?

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, PCs

A major management shake up at Apple earlier today has left many shocked at such wide-ranging company changes likely not seen since the death of the firm's co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the Apple-sphere once the company announces something. The famously secretive technology giant simply exhales and the media jumps into a frenzy.

While this time is no different, it's not a product announcement or service launch: it's a shake up at the very heart of the world's wealthiest, and one of the most powerful companies on the planet. And that spells major changes at what comes next.

The who

Scott Forstall, Apple senior vice-president for iOS software, will leave the company in the coming months and will stay on as advisor to CEO Tim Cook.

In charge of iOS, Apple's mobile operating system platform, Forstall was a controversial and often at times idiosyncratic figure within the company. A relic from the Steve Jobs days, it was argued that he didn't necessarily fit into the new corporate "design" -- in more ways than just the obvious. Jobs passed away and the company remained vastly the same, but the company's innards were given freedom and independence from the Jobsian era.

John Browett, Apple senior vice-president for retail, was shown the door immediately after less than a year in the job.

British retail expert Browett was a controversial choice from the get-go. He ran U.K.-based popular computer and technology chain Dixons and was poached at the end of January. But Dixons had already gone to the dogs and earlier this month was finally shuttered. Dixons had crumbled and Browett was lucky enough to have been given a way out.

The why

Apple did not give a specific reason -- let alone even hint at one -- as to why the two high-ups left Apple. (For all intents and purposes, even though Forstall will remain on to advise the chief executive, he has a scheduled departure date.) That said, looking back at what the two were responsible for, and two major screw-ups later and a cultural shift, it's not difficult to deduce why the two were likely pushed rather than walked freely out of the doors of 1 Infinite Loop.

The first major collective moment of public weakness was Siri, Apple's first major software headache. In spite of its appeal and its glamor among consumers, it was in "beta" for far too long and didn't work as well as it should've done. Maps was the next major slip-up, and for a while dubbed "Map-gate," a result stemmed from the firm's decision to ditch Google Maps from iOS 6 for an unfinished and botched attempt at a rival service.

But it wasn't the firm's decision. It was Forstall's final decision to defenestrate Google from the top-floor executive suite at Apple HQ and replace the mapping app with Apple's own in-house service. And it was beyond a flop, riddled with errors, and received criticism from both the media and end-users alike. 

Having said that, it does not rule out the possibility that Forstall was looking for something new.

With Apple chief executive Tim Cook at the helm and a further reshuffle away from Sir Jonathan "Jony" Ive being the chief executive officer himself -- we know the connection between Jobs and Ive was a special, unique partnership -- made it almost inevitable that he would eventually be groomed for the top-spot should Cook ever leave. With that, it rules Forstall out of the top-spot role, something he reportedly desired

The second major blow to Apple's public image came earlier this year when retail chief Browett caused a stir amongst the firm's retail store staff. While previous company focus had honed in on customer experience and seemingly little else -- there were no pushy staff in stores, they were friendly, every store has a calm, laid back employee-to-customer feeling -- Browett was instead told to focus on sales and raking in the cash by then chief operating officer Cook and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer.

Browett had to offer reassurances following concerns that the Apple retail stores would face cutbacks and reduced worker hours, including all-out layoffs. By publicly admitting that he had 'screwed up' a new implementation of a staffing schedule system may have tarnished the technology giant's image that it was invulnerable to injury, as it winced through the pain of the ordeal.

Also, his predecessor Ron Johnson said he wanted to expand rapidly into China, a key emerging market for Apple to crack, with more than 25 stores by the end of this year. In mainland China and Hong Kong, there are only eight stores, signaling a considerable effort still required to get the firm on track in the region. Tim Cook said on the Apple Q4 earnings call that China represented 15 percent of Apple's revenue, but it clearly isn't enough for the Cupertino technology giant.

Browett failed to achieve what Apple wanted in retail, and likely had to go for that reason alone. 

The next?

With Browett out, Tim Cook will be directly responsible for retail. Considering it was he who pushed Browett into focusing on sales rather than customer experience, we can only guess at how that will work out. Any changes to the status quo will likely remain minimal and inconsequential -- strategy only, perhaps -- instead of refocusing efforts elsewhere or anything other than the customer experience.

Eddy Cue, Apple senior vice-president for Internet software and services, will take over Siri and Maps -- two 'failed' products under the Forstall command.

Bob Mansfield, now senior vice president of technologies, will be charged with above all else bringing the semiconductor and chip-making effort in-house, something the firm has wanted for some time. Not only does it give Apple the opportunity to cut out its part-rival, part suppliers in the chip-making business, but it also allows Apple to gain a firmer grip on its increasingly leaky supply chain.

Despite his brief hiccup of wanting out to face retirement head on with more than a decade employment under his belt at Apple, Mansfield will now head up the new "technologies" division. He will also oversee the consolidation of the firm's wireless efforts.

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of Mac Software Engineering, will now take the lead the iOS software team effort from Forstall -- along with being responsible for Mac OS X software.

But with Ive now in charge of product design, device hardware and software, Ive now controls the very core of Apple's business: the iPhone. The iPhone division made more in the first quarter than Microsoft did as an entire company. Next is the iPad, but it has less prominent focus than the iPhone division. But what goes with the iPad goes with the iPhone later down the line and vice-versa.

But Ive is now the logical next in line to replace Cook when the time inevitably comes. With the experience, the company ethos, the ghost of Jobs over him, and the practical ability to take the company forward with the product design edge over anyone else at Apple, it's clear as day that Ive is next to sit in the chief's chair.

Daring Fireball author John Gruber makes a point.

But the big news today is about Jony Ive. I don’t think it can be overstated just how big a deal it is that he now oversees all product design, hardware and software. For the last year, outside observers have been left wonder just where the buck stopped for UI design at post-Jobs Apple. That question has now been answered: Jony Ive.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, PCs

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  • Remember October 29

    Scott Forre-skinn is an ashkenazi doushhe-bagg crook, like all other manageent cronies at apple...with no engineering or business credentials whatsoever...This sounds like a ruse to plant him into a company like Samsung, Google, Nokia, or Sony and use him to steal more technology for his friends Apple...something apple has been accusing the people it has been stealing ideas from all along (including its own employees)
    • Remember October 29

      By they way this was because of the continued screw ups, but the final nail in the coffin was crapple's ill-conceived plan to compete with google on Maps and "Siri"...12 years after I introduced and demonstrated GPS navigation to crapple as an employee they STILL can't figure it out.
      • Perhaps they didn't listen to you...

        because of your illiteracy.
      • Ouch.

        You might want to get that tree of your shoulder lest do do your back in.
        A Grain of Salt
      • Responsibility

        Well, StevesNightmare, you must take responsibility for working for crapple and producing crap products. Anyone with skill and integrity would have helped produce better products or would have left Apple for a better company. Clearly you are a bitter former employee. Were you fired? Did you really work for Apple, or is your story just fictional to make a hit on Apple?
        • Get a life...take a pill

          You stupid fool.. You just revealed the fact that you are a current employee (parasite) at apple...what do you work on? maps? hahahahahahhaha. I love the way you people were finally exposed for the stupid uneducated fraud artists that you are.
          By the way everybody...Maps was BOUGHT by apple! The only thing apple did was change around some of the pretty little icons...
      • Why didn't they listen to you?

        You probably have a car engine that runs on water too, right?
        • You guy's obviously haven't figured out,

          That this "StevesNightmare", is just ToddyBottom3, or woulddieforapple, or NZ. I do have to admit he does come up with some unique user names...
          • Walter

            as in Walter Mitty
      • You've kind of fallen off since Steve Jobs died.

        ((12 years after I introduced and demonstrated GPS navigation to crapple as an employee they STILL can't figure it out.))

        You're not saying crapple enough. You could have squeezed one more in with a little concentrated effort.
      • Ahhh, but you got the wrong GPS...

        Apple wanted something that utilized the global positioning system, not some generic piece of sh..
    • So

      Do you have any real proof of this or is this mere speculation?
      • It's not even speculation

        it's pure imagined fiction in the blog author's own mind.
  • Good.

    Apple desperately needs a change in direction. There are so many problems, which go way beyond the Maps debacle.

    For example, after arguing that tablets can do enough to displace a computer, Apple now ignores the implications: that tablet users and computer users are DIVERGING. When people choose to use a computer now, it's for a specific reason. Thus, Apple's current computer-design direction is exactly backward. Apple needs to make its computer OS and hardware LESS tablet/iOS-like, or there's no reason to buy them. The ridiculous glued-in batteries, the soldered-in RAM, the idiotic glossy screens, hodgepodge UI that still suffers from years- (sometimes decades-) old design defects... all a sad decline.

    Hopefully they can turn this thing around.
    Oscar Goldman
    • Hopefully a downtick, not a decline


      I agree that Apple is in need of a turnaround. "The ridiculous glued-in batteries, the soldered-in RAM, the idiotic glossy screens..." are just some of the idiocies that afflict Macs. Add to that the impoverished connectivity in the notebooks, and the mindless pursuit of Anorexia Chic™ at the expense of flexibility and expandability.

      They killed one of the best pro machines ever, the 17" MacBook Pro. I don't care about Retina; I need screen real estate to work with pro applications. They're forcing me off the laptop and onto the desktop.

      It's even worse on the software side, where forced obsolescence is becoming the norm. I still have applications that will not run in Lion, and for which there are no satisfactory replacements. And what's this business with dumbing down the OS? Finder hasn't been able to search for invisible items since Leopard, and now they've made the user Library invisible. I know how to work around it, but what the heck is going on with that?

      So many of the things that made the Mac a great hardware/software package are getting trashed by "the new Apple". I hope this lunacy is a temporary downtick and not a sign of decline. I'm loyal to Apple products for good reasons. Kill those reasons, and the loyalty evaporates.
    • What? Needs a turn around????

      No, they needed to continue with their coporate vision. Sure looks like that bubble has been burst. I'm thinking that current management really screwed up how they handled this.

      The over whelming odds are that Apple will now do a regression to norm, which is this case would be a regression to just another computer company. The reasons are simple enough: If you get people from other companies, then you should expect at some point to begin to operate and see results similar to those other companies.
    • HUH?

      Why do people write this false stuff? I am sorry but if you can point out a flaw with the new iMac design your crazy. Apples OSX and iOS are specifically designed for each device. They are merging familiar features which work between the two ( halo effect ), but its not like Windows 8. Windows 8 has horizontal scrolling on a desktop...Its a weird experience. I have Windows 8 now and the start page idea is not as bad as I thought. BUT when you want to put just a regular icon there it looks horrible. I guess it is really just an informational page for metro only stuff. Then you switch to desktop to do anything. I am happy that no media is required to install it. I thought I was going to need a CD. I still do not like the experience when browsing for a new app on their app store. Too xbox like. When you can actually use a mouse to navigate there is no reason for it to be soooo simplified and clutter in design.
  • Wow!

    2 drunk people in a row.
  • excellent writeup

    i enjoyed your analysis, with Cringelian insights
  • John Browett

    Browett was never Apple material... its good he's gone.