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Monday, Oct 29, 2012 6:55pm
Apple: iOS head Forstall, Retail chief Browett to depart
In a surprise announcement on Monday, Apple has confirmed that SVP of iOS Scott Forstall and SVP of Retail John Browett are leaving the company. Craig Federighi will take over heading up both iOS and OS X, though Forstall will stay on with the company into next year as an advisor. Apple CEO Tim Cook will run the retail side of Apple until a replacement for Browett, who started the job just nine months ago, is found. Other executives such as Sir Jonathan Ive, Eddy Cue and Bob Mansfield will take on additional responsibilities.

Thought there was no real signal that these departures were coming, Forstall did sell off most of his holdings of Apple stock last spring, netting nearly $39 million. By leaving the company next year, he will be forsaking a considerable amount of restricted stock units (RSUs) that were scheduled to vest in 2013, 2014 and 2016. There have been rumors that Forstall, generally held in high regard for the overall quality of iOS releases, was difficult to work with and caused friction on the executive team by adopting some of the tyrannical behaviors of his mentor Steve Jobs.

Forstall's mobile division also came under considerable fire for the way the new Maps app was rolled out. While significant improvements in the program have already taken place (with a consequent dying-down of complaints), early problems along with deliberate feature omissions (such as transit directions) allowed rivals a rare window of advantage to tout, and brought a torrent of negative publicity.

Despite a number of significant new features, the overall Maps app was seen by users as a downgrade in some ways from the previous Google-powered Maps app. Eddy Cue, currently the senior VP in charge of Internet software and services, will take on both Siri and Maps in the wake of Forstall's departure. Federighi will handle the rest of iOS as well as his current duties as OS X chief, a move that will likely go down well with investors but also fuel speculation of a complete merger between the two operating systems eventually.

The shakeup has also finally given a title and specifics on Bob Mansfield's role in the company. Mansfield, the former SVP of Hardware Engineering, passed the reins on to his lieutenant Dan Riccio last June and retired, but was persuaded to rejoin the company when engineers complained that Riccio was not quite up to the full demands of the job. Mansfield was hired back as simply a "Senior Vice President" and serves as an advisor to Cook as well as to Riccio, helping him manage the hardware aspect of the company.

Mansfield will now be in charge of an entirely new group called Technologies, that focuses on the wireless, battery and semiconductor work the company is doing. The official announcement on the changes, which naturally emphasizes the consolidation of departments as being more communicative and collaborative, goes so far as to say that the semiconductor group has "ambitious plans for the future." In a memo to employees released after the press announcement, Cook mentioned that Mansfield will be on the job for the next two years.

Browett's exit is less surprising. Though he came into the job with great support from Cook (as the CEO's first executive hire), a series of missteps left customers with the impression that Browett's mandate was to decrease the amount of "face time" customers got from retail personnel and to maximize Apple Store profits. Browett, like Forstall, also gives up considerable future compensation, to the tune of 95,000 shares of stock (currently valued at a total of $57 million) that would have vested over the next five years. Browett currently holds at least 5,000 shares of stock in Apple.

Ive, who has been the SVP of Industrial Design for over a decade, will add responsibility for Apple's Human Interface design guidelines to his duties. According to Cook's memo, the search for a replacement for Browett is "already underway," suggesting that Browett's decision to leave Apple may have been mutual. The entire memo to employees is reprinted below.


We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history. The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October – iPhone 5, iOS6, 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.

Today, I am announcing changes that will encourage even more collaboration between our world-class hardware, software and services teams at all levels of our company. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi will be taking on more responsibilities. I am also announcing that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to me during the interim. I want to thank Scott for all of his many contributions to Apple over his career.

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his longtime role as the leader of Industrial Design. Jony has an incredible design aesthetic and has been the driving force behind the look and feel of our products for more than a decade. The face of many of our products is our software and the extension of Jony’s skills into this area will widen the gap between Apple and our competition.

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

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X. We have the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems on the planet, and bringing together our OS teams will make it even easier to deliver our best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms. Craig recently led the very successful release of Mountain Lion.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of our wireless teams across the company in one organization, allowing us to innovate in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include all of our semiconductor teams, who have some very ambitious plans. As part of this, I am thrilled to tell you that Bob will remain with Apple for an additional two years. Bob has led some of our most challenging engineering projects for many years.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. Our search for a new head of Retail is already underway. In the meantime, the Retail team will report directly to me. Retail has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level, and they will continue the excellent work they’ve done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services and a focus on the customer that is second to none. This phenomenal team of talented and dedicated people works their hearts out making our customers happy. They have our respect, our admiration and our undying support.
Please join me in congratulating everyone on their new roles.

I’d like to thank everyone for working so hard so that Apple can continue to make the world’s best products and delight our customers. I continue to believe that Apple has the most talented and most innovative people on the planet, and I feel privileged and inspired to be able to work with all of you.