updated 01:50 pm EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
Exec indirectly responsible for iPhone 4 leak
Apple's senior VP for iOS, Scott Forstall, was indirectly responsible for the leak of an iPhone 4 prototype in 2010, a new Businessweek profile suggests. A former Apple manager claims that Forstall persuaded the company's CEO at the time, Steve Jobs, to allow dozens of engineers to carry prototypes so they could do better testing of network performance and reduce dropped calls. It was one of Forstall's engineers who accidentally left an iPhone 4 in a pub, which eventually resulted in a Gizmodo hands-on piece and a high-profile criminal investigation.
The profile also reveals some other facts about Forstall, such as his close ties to Jobs. "He was as close to Steve as anybody at the company," says Andy Miller, the former head of Apple's iAd division. Forstall is in fact said to have a car identical to Jobs' -- a silver Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG -- and an on-stage uniform, that being jeans, black shoes and a black zippered sweater.
Sources claim the VP has a tense relationship with other Apple executives, such as lead designer Jonathan Ive and Mac hardware leader Bob Mansfield. The conflict is allegedly intense enough that some executives will avoid meetings with him unless CEO Tim Cook is there as well. Two former Apple executives, Tony Fadell and Jean-Marie Hullot, are said to have left Apple after regularly fighting with Forstall. Another, Jon Rubinstein, reportedly turned away from conversations at a Silicon Valley party last month when Forstall's name was mentioned.
"I once referred to Scott as Apple’s chief a–hole," says a former Apple software engineer, Mike Lee. "And I meant it as a compliment." AT&T CTO John Donovan comments that Forstall "knows what he wants," and can be "relentless" about pursuing it.
A more positive perspective comes from Google's senior VP of social business, Vic Gundotra. "Scott's a pretty amazing guy," he remarks. "In terms of running an operating system team, he's one of the best I've ever seen." Such views may be reflected in Apple revenues, since the iPhone now forms the largest part of Apple's business, dwarfing even Macs, and the iPad is on the rise.