Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

It’s an iStorm: Scott Forstall Out at Apple, Along With Retail Head, as Other Top Execs Get Promotions

Big management shifts at Apple are now taking place.

Scott Forstall, the man in charge of its iOS mobile software efforts and a major and longtime executive at the tech giant, is leaving next year and will remain an adviser to CEO Tim Cook until then.

In addition, new retail head John Browett is headed out the door.

As part of the move, Apple noted that four key execs — Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi — would “add responsibilities to their roles.”

Ive gets “Human Interface”; Cue will take over Maps and Siri voice recognition responsibilities; Mansfield will run a new unit called Technologies, “which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization”; and Federighi gets the big job of iOS and OS X.

More to come on what happened, but Forstall’s departure is very big news and a drastic move for such an important player in the tech space.

He had big fans and also many detractors for his sharp-edged personality, as well as what some described as exhibiting “growing open challenges” to Cook himself. Forstall had previously been called “CEO-in-waiting” in one media account in Fortune.

In addition, numerous sources noted persistent tension between Forstall and several other key execs, especially the powerful design chief Ive.

Veiled internal politics at Apple aside, Forstall has been a key part of Apple’s success over the last decade, especially in the development iPad and the iPhone.

Recently, there has been some level of ire at Apple over the troubled rollout of its own mapping software and the replacement of Google’s popular service, which was Forstall’s responsibility. (No, this move does not mean everyone gets Google mapping back, as one person asked me.)

Browett’s leaving is a little less of a surprise. Since he got the job, he has alienated many within the highly successful retail organization at Apple, many sources said.

His departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to succeed Ron Johnson, who left for J.C. Penney in November 2011. Recently he’s been criticized by some Apple Store employees for unfriendly policy changes aimed at increasing Apple’s retail profit margins.

More to come, obvi, but here is the official press release from Apple, which it put out with the most understated title of all time:

Apple Announces Changes to Increase Collaboration Across Hardware, Software & Services

Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi Add Responsibilities to Their Roles

CUPERTINO, California — October 29, 2012 — Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.


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— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google