It sounds like an innocuous headline: Apple announces changes to increase collaboration across hardware, software & services. But what followed were significant bombshells: 15-year Apple veteran and Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall was leaving the company and so was the 9-month retail head, John Browett was on his way out, even before a replacement was found. There were other changes too, most notable being that Johnathan Ive ‘will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design’. The tech and Wall Street blogs have commented on the same. Interesting reads here and here.
Scott Forstall was the head of iOS – which played a huge role in changing the fortunes of the company (iPhone accounts for nearly 50% of Apple’s revenues now). So its sad to see him go. But if he is said to have behaved the way he did – playing demi-God, being difficult to work with and refusing to apologise for the Maps snafu, I think he deserved to go. John Browett’s unceremonious exit also seems a welcome change. To me, this sends positive signals about Tim Cook and Apple.
It means that even without Steve Jobs the current leadership is focused on doing what is right for the Apple brand. Apple has been extremely successful across virtually every parameter of late but one grouse has been that all the changes in the OS have been incremental. It is not fair to expect revolutionary new products every year from a company but with Apple, people demand a lot more. If there were attitude issues with the head of iOS then fresh thinking would be welcome. It also means that Tim Cook is not afraid to take bold decisions – be it apologising for Maps or getting rid of the person who was responsible for it. Apple has set high standards for itself and a shoddy output on Maps has hurt their image, if not sales. Most importantly, the seemingly innocuous phrase in the press release ‘increase collaboration across hardware, software & services’ reinforces what Apple really does best. Some call it control but the emphasis on integration is what sets them apart. The changes seem to reiterate Apple’s faith in that outlook.
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