back to article Forstall ousted from Apple after refusing to apologise for Maps

iOS chief Scott Forstall was ousted from Apple because he wouldn't say sorry for Maps, the WSJ reports. Forstall, who oversaw the production of iOS6 and its Apple Maps app, apparently refused to sign the official apology later offered by Tim Cook to customers for the poor quality of the navigation product. According to the …

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Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

If he just flat out refused to apologise then that's one thing, but it's also quite possible that he'd previously said "It's not ready yet, we shouldn't release" got told that it was happening and then refused to sign an apology because he'd told them so.

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Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

The more I read about it, the more I feel this may be the case. Cook wanted to release the new iOS without Google Maps (whose contract he wasn't willing to renew: my assumption), but then was told Apple Maps wasn't ready (I have heard they only started recruiting staff a few months before launch). When it failed, Cook tried to blame Forstall who said it wasn't ready and Forstall basically said "I said it wasn't ready for launch, I'm not apologising for you deciding to launch something against my advice" (something I've done myself in the past: luckily, I keep email copies ;) ). Cook then decided that Forstall wasn't going to jump hoops at his command and got rid of him.

Be very interesting if there is an employment tribunal, but IIRC, California is a "right-to-work" state and doesn't have this sort of employee protection (could be wrong though).

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There's two sides to every story.

We've heard Tim Cock's. Now let's hear Forstall's.

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Re: There's two sides to every story.

>We've heard Tim Cock's. Now let's hear Forstall's.

Whilst he's looking for a new job, he won't want to be seen slagging off his former employer, even if he does have cause.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

Try not to use proper "quotes" when you're not quoting. Italics would be better.

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Joke

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

If we're going to go the conspiracy route let's go all the way, eh?

Cook knew what state the maps app was in prior to release. He's the guy in charge, and apple pays plenty of attention to these things. If he didn't know, he was being negligent. He could have delayed, but didn't.

Forstall, going by the article linked, seems to have a generally good record in the company (a few missteps aside). He's the most like Jobs was. He's apparently a stickler for detail, so unlikely to have given a thumbs up to an incomplete maps app. He's also probably quite powerful in the internal politics side of things, having responsibility for so many of apple's money making lines.

Cook sees Forstall as a threat. He puts him in charge of the maps app, then either provides insufficient resources or pushes for an early release. It's a fiasco, and gives Cook an excuse to send Forstall packing, then divide up his empire amongst others who will prove less of a long term problem.

The Prince, available on itunes now!

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Re: There's two sides to every story.

Whilst he's looking for a new job, he won't want to be seen slagging off his former employer, even if he does have cause.

But at the same time, if he's asked for his side of the story and simply says (as some people believe) he'd informed the company that the app wasn't ready for release, but it was pushed through anyway, hence the refusal to sign an apology, some companies (don't know which) would actually see that as a sign of integrity. It's better to release software when it's complete than push it through early and filled with bugs.

Many companies have learnt that the hard way (iOS maps, Vista, PS3) and suffered for it. With that view in mind having somebody who's willing to say "it isn't ready yet" rather than bend over backwards might be appreciated in certain roles.

BUT it all depends on how he goes about it.

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Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

Forestall was the person who demonstrated both Siri and Apple Maps at their launch. He made them out to be perfect. He didn't try to limit expectations in any way. If he had misgivings then you'd have expected him to put something into the presentations to cover both his and Apple's arses.

The other rumour doing the rounds is that he and Jonny Ive hated each other (so much so that they wouldn't meet unless Cook was present). Given the amount of clout that Ive has within Apple that's a dangerous place to be in.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

"Be very interesting if there is an employment tribunal"

This guy is an Exec... normal rules don't apply. He is most certainly getting a parachute worth millions. I'm not saying it's right, but it is the way things work.

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

Hypothetically, if you were in Cook's shoes... given the choice between Ive and Mansfield, and Forstall, who would you choose? I have no idea if it was really at that point, but at some point something has to give when you have employees that cannot work together unless supervised.

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Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

California is a collective bargaining state meaning if a company recognizes a union you either pay union dues or don't work / work somewhere else; we have no right to work law here. Besides given his position in the company I find it unlikely that Forstall was a union member and was undoubtedly an 'at will' employee but he may have had an employment contract with some form of a golden parachute. Also IIRC there are no unions at all inside Apple but there was some talk a bit ago about the store employees unionizing.

If Forstall did have a generous severance package he strikes me as the type who might just start a little enterprise of his own. It will be interesting to see if there was a non-compete clause was in his contract.

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Facepalm

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

A lot of people angry about various hyoptheticals that are happening only in people's minds.... Strange.

Bottom line, he either said "it's not ready" and blew a fairly hard deadline tied to the Google renewal, or shipped it with minimal attention to quality control. Either option is a fairly big "oops" moment for a SVP's team. Not to mention Tim Cook getting the team he *wanted* and not inherited was long overdue. As for tribunals, he's a SVP - short of plundering the company (and even then...) you leave with an almighty golden parachute regardless of reason for exiting.

As an outsider and slightly back on topic, I'm rather excited at the prospect of Sir Jony heading up hard and soft design, anyone else?

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Black Helicopters

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

To take a "theory" a bit further: Jobs knew deep down that a megalomaniac like himself was a threat to the well-being of the entire human race, but couldn't help himself from grooming Forstall as a replacement in his own image.

On his deathbed, though, he had a change of heart, (and in an attempt at salvation before meeting his maker) he decided to instead christen Cook as the new leader, knowing full-well that he would seek out and destroy elements resembling Jobsian traits, ensuring the happy future of humanity.

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Black Helicopters

Re: If we're going to go the conspiracy route let's go all the way, eh?

Steven Jobs isn't really dead?

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Anonymous Coward

"he strikes me as the type who might just start a little enterprise of his own"

<joke>

I'm sure Ive is quaking in his minimalist designer shoes at the thought of having to compete against a resurgent Forestall hawking apps with "fake leather stitching" and "ring-binder simulations".

</joke>

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Re: He is most certainly getting a parachute worth millions.

I wonder just how big was the check that was attached to his walking papers.

(cr)Apple may have made it worth his while to agree to a non-disparaging clause in the severance agreement.

Also, I am curious about any non compete clauses he may have had in the employment contract. I could think of two companies who (cr)Apple would not want him working for (Samsung and Google).

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@ bobdobbs

Your sir win a cigar, or a cash value of 0.0001p, while stocks last.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

It's an employment at will state. The difference is there is the Labor board for unfair dismissals and when employers fail to pay you or pay in time. Yes you can be fired for just any reason but it better well be documented why or you face fines or be required to hire the person back. In the US right to work is more about weakening the unions and employee rights. I live in California. An employer failed to pay me 49 dollars on time. I went to the labor board and they had to pay me 800 dollars plus fines to the state

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Anonymous Coward

At Will, not Right to work

"Right to work" means you cannot be compelled to join a union to work someplace.

You are thinking of "At Will", which means your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any or no reason (although if you are terminated without reason you are entitled to unemployment and termination pay).

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Pint

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

"Siri - what's the fastest way out of this place?"

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Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

Forstall got canned because he pissed of the enginners and the designers ie everyone who counts. Siri and Maps as a reason is BS, both need user input and more data to improve. When. Google maps came out it was rideculed as a joke by the satnav companies and they where right, of course what they didn't understand was that "good enougth for free" kills "best but not needed and expensive".

Cook understands this, Forstall was not sacked because the wern't as good as as Cook thought they were, that would imply a leval of stupidity that would have got Cook canned years ago. He was fired because, to quote another site "he was job's man, not steve jobs" and no one liked him.

If I was to guess, which I will, im guessing that he didn't like the reorganisation so Cook said, "take it or leave it". Look at what happened, siri and maps got given to the guy running Apples cloud inferstructure, that makes sence as it's back end, the IOS UI gets moved to the design centre, well doh. Hardware got changed around but that would not have effected Forstall.

Forstall basically got demoted and I would guess he didn't like that, you don't work out the hardware or the interface or the connectivity. Thats a big loss of influence. The big clue is that he is still there so his share options will vest, everyone says he is fired but thats wrong, the guy from Dixon got fired but Forstall will stay till he can pick up the share options. Funny thing is that that is like Jobs at Apple, never fired just sidelined.

The interesting thing will be to see what he does, he clearly has a lot of talent, is regarded as an egotistical arsehole and is vey rich (give Apple there due, they have no problem making you rich is you deliver). He reminds me of someone that used to work at Apple.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

If you know Anything about Forstall, you'll know this is all about his ego.

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Pint

Re: There's two sides to every story.

@ wowfood - funny that....every time I've done the same I've ended up getting kicked...D/N/T speed to market...fuck quality.

So much for integrity neh?

/feeling quite cynical today...no beer.

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Stop

Re: Guess the fairness of it depends on the situation

@a_been: Please, turn the spellchecker on. Or stop typing on the screen.

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Unhappy

Re: gives Cook an excuse to send Forstall packing

...rings true, actually. Set-ups like this are sadly too common, esp. in the UK with our excellent employee rights (for now), such as not being able to sack someone out-of-hand unless gross incompetence / insubordination / etc is proven.

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>Siri - Forstall's brainchild - is ambitious but has failed to fully deliver.<

In fact, since ios6 its dictation capabilities have intermittently stopped working on my ipad3 (it'll work a few times then the three dots just keep flashing and the keyboard clicks disappear for a few minutes - this is after a reset and clean reinstall), whereas before in ios5. it worked perfectly, there are a few threads scattered here and there about it. No response from Apple, it affects too few users.

However, there is now a hacked version of 'Google Now' working on Cyanogenmod for offline dictation on my rooted android phone which, luckily, 'just works' really well.

Good dictation on tablets is the future, it's better than virtual keypads.

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>Good dictation on tablets is the future, it's better than virtual keypads.l

In some circumstances. I tend to use more for searches such as "cinema listings Cardiff" rather than "coque au vin recipe", sort of second-guessing what it will find easier to understand. My accent is fairly close to received pronunciation, so I can imagine dictation only getting for me, but it might not for everybody.

Hmm... has anyone got around to proposing a phone case incorporating a chorded keyboard on Kickstarter yet? That would seem to be a good mobile typing solution. Hell, fairly easy to prototype, too...

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Coat

"coque au vin recipe", "accent is fairly close to received pronunciation"

I can see you getting a list of popular local "dogging" spots returned with that combination....

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>>Hmm... has anyone got around to proposing a phone case incorporating a chorded keyboard on Kickstarter yet?

Tell this guy (Chris) to get his act together: http://www.cykey.co.uk/

If you read the "Development" section it seems that he needs some help with Bluetooth

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Cykey

Crikey is he still going?

I still have somewhere his chorded keyboard which plugged into the old (pre-PS/2) keyboard port. Hope he's improved the layout. Typing on it was a pain.

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Dictation

Dictation is for stuff that doesn't deserve the effort needed to get to a keyboard. Biggest drawback to tablets and smartphones for me is the input interface. My first dictation experience was with an old dictabelt machine back in the early-80's. Like a lot of professionals. keyboards finally showing up on our desks almost 10 years later felt like freedom. Finally we had complete control over our output, and could see what we were writing in context (for awhile scrolling back and forth through documents was an almost hypnotic experience). Since I'd also had the good luck to grow up alongside people who thought 60 wpm was some kind of minimum threshhold for competence, I was still able to bang out what I was trying to say as fast as if it was dictated. For me trying to negotiate the soft keyboard on a phone or a tablet is like taking a step backwards. "Real" fold out keyboards, even when the software responds to them properly, are a cramped compromise. Still, getting voice recognition right would be a huge benefit, especially when trying to set up a navigation session with Google Maps (which really is very good and continues to be the most valuable app on my ANDROID phone).

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Trollface

Can he find his way out of the building?

Ah yes I can just picture the conversation now......

"you're fired, Mr Forstall. There's the door - over there..... no, left a bit..... right a bit...... if you're using our latest Maps software you'll find it's the grey blob adjacent to the yellow blob that we think repesents this building although we can't acutally be sure as it may well represent an entire suburb......"

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Holmes

Jobs vs Cook round 2

It's no secret Jobs and Cook didn't see eye to eye at all, it's all in his autobiography.

This reeks of a "Ha! They think he screwed up, now's my chance to fire him, no questions asked!" bitter sweet victory for Cook. Of course this is pure speculation on my part, but where there's been smoke for so long you're bound to find fire.

I just hope Ives can deliver on iOS7.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jobs vs Cook round 2

Is Cook thinking "Beware the march of Ives."

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FAIL

Re: Jobs vs Cook round 2

That was a very witty remark and whichever plonker downvoted it had obviously never heard of William Shakespeare, Juilius Caesar and other minor historical figures.

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Re: Jobs vs Cook round 2

We can expect a Brutus speech from Cook any day now. He will go in length on his Apple website as to why he needed to can Forstall. Cook did it for the sake of the country. I mean for the sake of iSheeps all over the world. Forstall's last words in Cook's office is "Et tu, Cook?".

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For every anecdote pointing out a flaw in Apple's mapping data...

... I can point to plenty more in Google's. Particularly in Italy, which still gets lousy coverage in Google's database. (Including the same cloud-cover issues people have complained about in Apple's database.)

Apple's app is the only one to correctly label the bypass road that runs past my town here, for example. Google's data would have you drive right through multiple medieval towns with no less than four dangerous hairpin bends on steep gradients. (The bypass, which was completed a few years ago, isn't even labelled correctly by Google.)

Neither database is perfect, because global mapping is always an ongoing process. There is not – and may never be – a 100% perfect dataset. So I don't think the "Maps apology" (which is just a PR stunt) is the real reason for Forstall's continued fall from grace.

However, it's clear from reading various articles on Forstall that he's not easy to work with, with some accusing him of stealing credit. A number of ex-Apple employees have been less than effusive with praise for him, with some pointing out that the "Antennagate" issue also happened on Forstall's watch. (It seems there was a software-related component to that, which Forstall denied, but which turned out to be the case: The signal strength meter clearly used a different algorithm to most of Apple's competitors back then and this was changed shortly afterwards.)

It's also worth noting the suggestion that Forstall "was once considered" for Job's role – my emphasis. As Steve Jobs had plenty of time to prepare before his death, it's unlikely Tim Cook was chosen over Forstall without Jobs' say-so, so something clearly made him decide against his own protégé.

In any corporation of this size, you need to have a rock-solid team that can actually work together if you're going to keep the ship steady. Forstall doesn't appear to be a team player. His departure could signal a number of design changes given Ive's extended remit. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

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Re: For every anecdote pointing out a flaw in Apple's mapping data...

"For every anecdote pointing out a flaw in Apple's mapping data...

... I can point to plenty more in Google's."

More? I don't believe you.

Where Google Maps is good, the US, UK etc. Apple Maps is significantly worse. No questions. All your anecdote suggests is that where Google Maps is a bit crap, so is Apple Maps, but sometimes Apple is a bit better.

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Re: For every anecdote pointing out a flaw in Apple's mapping data...

Google maps is an overlay to GPS.

Apple could have built up a decent maps db simply by tracking phone movement and speed and then aligning it with their road location data. They have enough of the phone market to do this, though Apple streetmap cars wouldn't have gone amiss. Apple have billions, it would have been easy to offer an "intern" program where car-roof cameras could be hooked up to an iphone and people get itunes credit for areas they map.

They should have done this (did do this?) while gmaps was being used until they could demonstrate that it was all working nicely.

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Re: For every anecdote pointing out a flaw in Apple's mapping data...

"All your anecdote suggests is that where Google Maps is a bit crap, so is Apple Maps, but sometimes Apple is a bit better."

You appear to have misunderstood me: Google's map data for my neck of the woods wasn't "a bit crap". It sucked horribly and was effectively useless. Until iOS 6 was released, my town was shown by Google's own data as being entirely hidden by cloud cover – a problem many have complained about with Apple's own app, so it's clearly not unique to the latter.

Not one centimetre of my town was visible in the iOS 5 Maps app. Not one. Let me repeat that in italics: None of it was visible.

And it matters not one iota if Google has better mapping in the US or UK because — and I'll type this out very slowly, in the unlikely event that it might help your reading comprehension — most of the planet's population does not live in either country.

Never, in the entire recorded history of Homo Sapiens, has "Your Mileage May Vary" been more applicable.

The only "mistake" Apple made here was in not labelling their Maps app a "beta". For some inexplicable reason, nobody seems to mind when Google expect their "community members" to work for them for free, while photocopying their personal data for advertisers, as long as there's a pretty little "Beta" image somewhere on the screen. This despite Google having plenty of money swilling about themselves.

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Bob Mansfield seems to be crucial to this..

I think looking at the Bob Mansfield story might shed some light here. Mansfield had been in charge or high up concerning Apple's hardware since 1999. In June it was announced that he was retiring, and it was made to sound like he was saying he had been doing this for a long time, he was tired, and he wanted to spend some time with his money. Then it was announced in August that he was not retiring, and that he would be working on "Special Projects" rather than being head of hardware. Yesterday, it was announced that his new job was "Head of Technologies" in charge of all Apple's wireless products, and I suppose we will find out what this actually means.

It sounds to me that one of the reasons he retired was because he couldn't stand Forstall, and that Tim Cook discovered this after he had announced his retirement and then talked him out of retiring, presumably on the basis that he should get a couple of months rest and that at the end of that time his new job would be ready for him and Forstall would not be there any more. It may actually have at least partly been a "Him or me" situation between Mansfield and Forstall, even if it was not exactly presented that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Somebody's read "The Prince"

Somebody's read Machiavelli's "The Prince" - when you get caught in a scandal, either immediately say "Mea Culpa" and move on, or find a scapegoat to take the fall (advice which Bill Clinton spectacularly failed to heed).

In this case it sounds like they tried to do both: The head honcho put out a Mea Culpa AND tried to get an underling to join in as well. Forstall probably has read The Prince as well, and knew he was getting fitted for the goatskin - so he refused, and was sacrificed anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Hopefully this means a return to the useful address book and calendar on OSX instead of the "realistic looking" crappy ones we have now.

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Alien

Let's get ready to rumbleeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before Steve Jobs passed away he had planned and sketched out the roadmap for Apple products for 4 more years. Jobs even sketched out a Roman Colosseum like building for Apple. Think of the irony here. It is just over a year under Tim Cook and Apple is getting peeled. The core team is fighting and it is starting to look like a Graeco-Roman wrestling. The only thing missing is the Roman Colosseum. I wish they build the colosseum soon in Cupertino so that we can buy season tickets to go and watch the top brass at Apple duke it out in the middle of the colosseum.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's get ready to rumbleeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Show me anything that implies anyone other than Forstall was involved in the fighting.

Until then, the weight of evidence indicates that Forstall didn't play well with others, as indicated by numerous sources (WSJ, NYT, etc).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's get ready to rumbleeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can't say I've ever seen anyone rumbleeeeing...

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Re: Let's get ready to rumbleeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@Anonymous Coward, Well given how secretive the company operates, we will never know even if they are having fist fights among the top brass. But these kind of changes will slowly create a divide within the company where more heads will start rolling without making the news. When Cook says he is going to keep Forstall as an adviser to him, what does that really mean? Is Cook really going to take advice from Forstall? Its even possible that Cook might have already moved Forstall's office into the broom closet. The next likely announcement from Apple will be that Forstall wanted to spend more time with his family.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's get ready to rumbleeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

these kind of changes will slowly create a divide within the company where more heads will start rolling without making the news

That is, of course, a possible scenario. The alternative scenario, which IMHO the weight of evidence (if you can call reporters' unnamed, off the record sources) seems to support is that Forstall was not well liked by his peers or his reports. Ars has gone so far as to state that the rank and file "rejoiced" at the news. It could be that this is not a draconian move at all, and could result in a more cohesive, collaborative and productive environment at Apple.

I guess it really depends on what you think of Forstall, and Cook for that matter. I might have missed the stories of Cook being insecure and working to consolidate power against the threat of Forstall... and of Forstall - not Ives - being the creative genius at Apple now that Jobs is gone.

TBH, I don't really care one way or the other - I don't have a dog in the fight. I've seen enough pointless reorgs and game of thrones in the upper ranks of my company to be skeptical that anything will ever get better here (I won't mention the name other than it's a really big tech company that is written about here regularly), but maybe there's hope for the folks at Apple. Who knows...

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FAIL

Apple are caught between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, developing maps to Google's current standard will take a lot of time and money, and it will take them even longer to match the development Google will do in the meantime.

On the other hand, buying back into Google maps will be unbelievably embarrassing.

It's not looking good for iOS users.

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FAIL

Refund Time?

If the questionable state of Siri and the dismal Crappy Mappy is enough to can/fire a senior official, if reasonably follows that Fanbois are entitled to a refund on Version 6.

Since Apple knows all the information about it;s purchasers there can be no excuse for ANY delay in crediting the credit cards.

AND the restoration of Google Maps until Apple fixes it's Map app.

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