back to article Apple exec behind Maps and Siri to exit One Infinite Loop

"Siri, is the iOS Map app bad enough to cost me my job?" That's the question Apple's Scott Forstall might just be asking today, after Apple reshuffled its executives and it was announced he would leave the company next year, "and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim” after a reorganization of the company …

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Forstall was a polarizing figure, so this may be good for Apple

From the description of him in articles like the below, it sounds like he may have been more trouble than he was worth. Basically he acted like Steve Jobs did, but wasn't Steve Jobs. Whether this is a good thing for Apple in the long run depends on what they're losing by getting rid of him, but if I worked at Apple and had to deal with a guy like him I think I'd be glad to see him go.

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/09/29/does-apple-have-a-scott-forstall-problem/

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Re: Forstall was a polarizing figure, so this may be good for Apple

You have a point. However, keep in mind that, as polarizing as he may be, Steve Jobs managed to keep him along and make him and everyone else work together on many successful products for 14 years.

If anything, this shows an issue with Mr. Cook's leadership and ability to keep the lights on and the trains running on time after Job's passing.

dZ.

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Re: Forstall was a polarizing figure, so this may be good for Apple

Jobs was probably the only guy Forstall would listen to, and from all accounts he expected and believed he deserved to succeed Jobs as as CEO. He probably thought he was untouchable and indispensable and acted like it, even to Cook.

The lack of respect is rather like how a certain segment of the US don't consider Obama to be "their" president, and the similarly sized segment before them who didn't consider Bush "their" president. Sometimes there is nothing a leader can do to earn someone's respect. When you're CEO, you may not worry about a few janitors that don't respect you, but if you have someone like that in your senior management ranks, if you can't get them in line you have no choice but to get rid of them.

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Dixons Bloke

They also got rid of that Dixons bloke

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dixons Bloke

I predicted here nine months ago that he'd last six months before Apple saw it as a mistake .... I guess he took some annual leave over the summer.

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Re: Dixons Bloke

So what part of Dixon's performance - pisspoor financials, pisspoor customer experience - were Apple hoping to emulate?

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jai
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Re: Dixons Bloke

9 months != 6 months

Nostradamus also predicted the end of the world. By your maths, he's also right even though it just hasn't gotten around to happening yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dixons Bloke

Nah .. its clearly within the +/- 3 month error rounding (which were there if you read the disclaimer on my post).

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Pint

The most commonly overheard phrase in an Apple Store

John Browett (retail head) begged to stay, but was told "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do."

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Mushroom

Good riddance for Browett

He was a hack management consultant moron. Whatever made them think importing 'talent' from Dixons was a good move?

Forstall I have mixed feelings about: the 'elegant minimalism is always the way forward' kind of people have spent years cringing over iOS trends he apparently plugged (leather stitching on the calendar, sashes on your newly-purchased apps, Game Center's casino theme) but they really do add to the fun of using Apple products. I think Apple sold a lot of iPads to families who loved the idea of it as a magical enchanted book filled with clever details round every corner.

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Re: Good riddance for Browett

"Round every corner"

I see what you did there

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Alert

"and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim”

Code for: Special Projects, which is code for: Waiting in the departure lounge, which is code for: getting the boot.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim”

Guess he'll be "working from home" a lot and spending time on LinkedIn

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Apple restoring focus

This is the best news about Apple in a while. Forestall dumped a big chunk of his options last spring (at 600 a share) . He was probably Steve's ax man rather than a top designer or innovator. Jony Ivey had to sign off on this. He was given veto power over the CEO's corporate governance decisions. Siri, and the Maps fiasco were the final straws. I am sure no one appreciated the "Steve wouldn't have done that" bs that was Forestalls trademark. Political infighting over product and marketing focus is what has killed Micosofts innovation. One of the reason for the absurd level of secrecy in Apple was that no one internlly can fight changes in product designs or OS layout if they don't know what is coming. It was not unusual for Apple to by pass middle management by literally adding a wall around some ones office so his boss and co workers wouldn't know what he was doing. This was seen as Jobsian meglomania, but it worked. This kind of a putsch in the executive suite has not happened in Apple since Gil Amelio was fired in 1997.

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Mushroom

Now he's gone...

DEATH TO THE SKEUOMORPHISM!

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Boffin

Makes you wonder

How long would Steve Ballmer have lasted as an Apple exec?

10 minutes?

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Pushed

According to the WSJ Forstall was asked to resign after refusing to sign his name to the Maps apology.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204840504578087192497916304.html

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Really happy to see the death of digital stitching

And will be interesting to see SJI's take on a the UI, expecting an initial quick reskin of the awful stuff before we see a new direction though.

Also Eddy Cue picks up the pieces again, that guy is a fucking star.

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Anonymous Coward

"Siri, can you direct me to the nearest exit?"

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Anonymous Coward

"Jonny Ive will now "provide leadership and direction for Human Interface across the company," while also keeping his chief designer job."

Lets hope he can do something with the current god aweful UI!

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Unhappy

Oh no no no

The point of a UI is to abstract the real-world into a simpler user interface by removing confusing elements, adding elements which the real-world can't provide (e.g. sliders which stick at 25%, 50%, etc...), controls which change according to the context, and giving it a uniform look and feel so that once you're at home with one program or the system you're at home with the rest with the minimum of fuss.

Instead we're going to get knobs which turn, pages which turn, forms and control panels limited to use in similar ways as their real-world counterparts instead of being interactive, each program mimicking its real world counterpart therefore having a different look and feel, and other stuff. Some would argue that iOS is practically already there. His work with hardware is very pretty but someone from his background isn't going to design the best UI from a software perspective.

It's people from his background that made Windows 8 what it is today and people from his background who would happily fix Windows 9 by throwing out the desktop. Of course his job description will include unifying OS X and iOS and we all know which OS is going to end up prettified and which one's going to end up looking like the other.

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Re: Oh no no no

I think you're misattributing the horrible skeuomorphic UI of iOS to Jonathan Ive; surpsisingly so, as I couldn't think of a visual style that's more at odds with Ive's cold minimalism than the wild-west souvenir-stall that is iOS.

The original UI of MacOS X was based on the then-current current hardware design, by Ives and co. Mr Forstall, on the other hand, was in charge of the iApps like GarageBand - the canonical example of a skeuomorphic UI. As a Mac user, I'm glad his view has not prevailed. OS 10.7 is stuffed with stupid visual effects that do nothing to address the usability of the OS (or fix longstanding problems).

When asked, Ive had always diplomatically dodged the question of why Apple's phone software UI was so out-of-step with the cold minimalism of its hardware. I'm interested to see what his own views on design will bring to the device screens, but I can't see a radical change right away: Their large userbase means that Apple now run a risk of alienating the many millions of users who are accustomed to the current look and feel, users who will react negatively to any change...

It's the same problem Microsoft face with Windows 8, or Ubuntu with Unity. Both have been subjected to a storm of negative press by people who react badly to change (a common trait of the tech community). However, the initial outrage dies down quickly once people give the new idea a chance (Unity suffers from the choice available in Linux - overall, it's an improvement over previous desktops, but the ability to easily revert to an older shell means that most users won't bother to find this out -- sometimes choice is bad in the long run)

"It's people from his background that made Windows 8 what it is today "

Hardly. Ive is a product designer, working in three dimensions, whereas Windows 8 is heavily influenced by typographic design. The two disciplines don't really coincide very much, except perhaps that Ive's simplified forms approach the functional minimalism of a general-purpose typeface.

Consistency is the key to a good UI, not what the buttons look like, and you only have to use Windows 8 for a few minutes to spot the cues within it. These visual cues are clear and simple (boxed text = tap here to do something; arrow beside = tap here to expand, etc). If you wanted to compare something to its clean, simple UI, you would need to go back to the original Macintosh.

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Re: Oh no no no

I beg to differ (of course).

The original versions of Aqua weren't based particularly on the hardware. 10.0 had a 3D pin-stripe bubble-gum look which gradually toned down but by 10.4 there were three different types of window frame, one of which was the pro look and another was the brushed metal look to simulate real-world hardware (QuickTime Player, iTunes, Calculator) which I personally couldn't stand because brushed metal windows had a different set of rules for interacting with them (e.g. you can move the window by clicking and dragging anywhere on or inside its frame). Brushed metal was arguably inspired by the hardware design and kind of wedged into Aqua so it was a step back.

10.5-10.6 unified everything to a kind of nondescript grey look with brushed metal's interaction but also brought in a 3D dock and more realistic and/or chiselled icons so it's hard to claim it's an improvement either. About this same time we had greater icon and 'window' realism in iOS devices and this made its way into 10.7-10.8 along with a full screen apps.

The Windows 8 mention meant Microsoft wilfully throwing out WIMP interface elements just so it can be called different. 10.7-10.8 isn't such a big step in that direction but the trend in OS X always been towards less consistency, less abstraction, and one task at a time, and I don't think JI had any effect in slowing that down.

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Re: Oh no no no

Trust me, the original Aqua UI was indeed to complement the PowerMac G3/G4 and iMac ranges as they stood in 2000/2001. These products featured the pin-stripe effect and the "candied" plastic inserts. This was towards the end of my time in Apple, but everyone's response to Aqua when we finally saw it was "cool, it looks like the iMacs". Of course, the launch of the Titanium-clad Powerbook G4 in 2001 made this seem like less of a briliiant move than it had before.

Brushed Metal actually predates the metal hardware: it came from MacOS 8.5's QuickTime player (the one with the stupid rotary volume control), and from there it bled into Sherlock (does anyone else remember Sherlock?) and iTunes. It was intended to be the equivalent of System 6's Desk Accessory window type, for simple one-function applications, but devs both inside and outside of Apple leapt on it because it looked "cool". Because it was inadequate for proper application windows, a whole pile of functionality was sloppily back-ported into this window class over the next few years.

I saw no benefit in 10.6's "new" Dock - if anything it made it less clear... but then I've been using DragThing for about 15 years or so, and still do, so I normally keep Apple's dock well hidden.

Agree that OS X has become a rag-bag of different styles in terms of its own applications, but I don't think MS is doing Windows 8 just to be "different" - there's a lot of thought behind this new UI, and it does reflect the way people use applications (especially on Windows, where most application interaction is with a maximised window, filling the screen). The rave reviews for applications like WriteRoom (on MacOS) show there's a productive benefit to removing background clutter and concentrating on one task at a time. (I've long placed my email and other communications applications on a separate, smaller screen out of my eyeline for just this reason)

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Megaphone

While they are at management reshuffling...

.. why not replace whoever thinks extremely fragile non-industry-standard USB connectors are a good idea.

also: whoever is responsible for non-replaceable batteries

also: whoever is responsible for non-replaceable memory cards

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xio

Re: While they are at management reshuffling...

I take your point re the USB's but the other two we *really* need to move on from. I've had plenty of handsets in the past where I could replace batteries and memory cards, and invariably you just stick in the ones you need and never change them again. Got sick of flimsy battery covers (thank you Nokia) and the like. Other manufacturers seem to be moving towards Apples position on this.

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WTF?

If they can/fire these two for defective preformance, is it not reasonable to assume ...

that both Siri and Crappy Mappy are equally sub-standard and deserving of a refund?

How much, is the question or will that be vouchers for iTunes?

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Anonymous Coward

The Dixons man

Apart from his "staffing" alterations, any clues has whay he's got the push?

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