Apple has overhauled its management team and announced that two top executives are to leave the company, in a move that could signal a major culture change at the technology giant. John Browett, the head of retail, is out after just six months in the job and Scott Forstall, the long-serving head of its iPhone software development operations, will go in the new year. The US firm did not say why either man was leaving but both have presided over blunders in recent months.
In a press release, Apple said the changes would “encourage even more collaboration between the company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams”.
The statement did not thank either Forstall or Browett.
‘No apology for maps’
Forstall, a protege of the late Steve Jobs, joined the firm in 1997 when the company bought Jobs’ NeXT start-up. Apple credits him as being one of the original architects of Mac OS X.
Forstall’s division have been in hot water since a software update in September replaced Google Maps with Apple’s first mapping application.
The software was immediately attacked for being full of inaccuracies and much harder to use, prompting boss Tim Cook to apologise.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Forstall was ousted from Apple because he wouldn’t say sorry for Maps. Forstall apparently refused to sign the official apology later offered by Tim Cook to customers for the poor quality of the navigation product.
Forstall was also behind much of the Apple page designs, with a fondness for creating a ‘real world’ look on many native apps, such as leather stitching and ring-binder simulations in the contacts book. Apple’s design boss Jonathan IveIve is said to personally dislike and has seen Windows 8 praised above iOS for its cleanness of design.
Siri – Forstall’s brainchild – is ambitious but has failed to fully deliver. Maps has proved to be the killer blow though, because people actually used that so they noticed it was bad.
Forstall’s responsibilities are being divided between other Apple veterans and he will work as an advisor to Cook until he leaves.
‘Mistake to cut staffing hours’
Browett, the former head of Dixons, slashed staffing hours in Apple shops in a move that was later reversed by the company and acknowledged as a mistake.
Apple has more His move to cut staffing appears to have been motivated by a desire to improve profits but Apple divisions do not have their own profit-and-loss accounts and are supposed to support the company as a whole.
Apple has more than 360 shops but they only make up 12% of overall sales. They are seen as ambassadors of the brand and therefore have a strong emphasis on customer service.
The surprise announcement about the departures was made on Monday, at the height of superstorm Sandy which is battering parts of the east coast of North America.
Senior Vice President Eddy Cue will take over Siri and Maps. Executives Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield will also expand their roles. The company said that the changes would help consolidate its online services.