Apparently there has also been a storm in Cupertino, Calif.
Apple today abruptly announced a reorganization of its executive ranks that includes the departure of Scott Forstall, head of its iOS mobile software group.
Forstall will be an adviser to Chief Executive Tim Cook until he leaves the company next year.
Forstall — who grew up in the Silverdale area, interned at Microsoft and still has family in the area — was a close protege of and possible successor to Steve Jobs before Cook’s ascendancy.
A BusinessWeek profile in 2011 called Forstall “the sorceror’s apprentice” and said he “may be the best remaining proxy for the voice of Steve Jobs, the person most likely to channel the departed co-founder’s exacting vision for how technology should work.”
The story noted that Forstall is named on about 50 Apple patents, including a key one in 2009 that named him, Jobs and other employees as co-inventors of a touchscreen device controlled by finger commands.
More recently Forstall’s group has come under fire for glitches with the launch of iOS 6, including a faulty mapping program that led to a rare apology by Apple.
Apple chose to release the news on a day it would have the least effect on its stock, which has lost some of its momentum since September and following the launch of the iPad mini last week. It announced Forstall’s departure and the executive shakeup during the storm-related closure of Wall Street.
Also leaving in the shakeup is John Browett, head of Apple’s retail business, after less than a year in the position. Cook will directly lead the group while a replacement is sought. Browett was hired in January from British consumer-electronics retailer Dixons.
Executives Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi are being given additional responsibilities.
Ive, head of industrial design, will now also lead human interface design, a position giving him more authority over software as well as hardware.
Federighi will lead iOS in addition to OS X software development. Cue will add Siri and Maps to his online services group. Hardware engineering chief Mansfield will lead a new “technologies” group that will work on wireless products and semiconductors.
“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” Cook said in a release. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, 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.”
The release didn’t provide any information about Forstall’s next career move and the company has not yet responded to a request for more details.
Forstall, a Stanford graduate, joined Apple in 1997 through the acquisition of NeXT, a computer company that Jobs founded after he resigned from Apple in 1985. Forstall was one of the original architects of the OS X operating system and its Aqua user interface.
Forstall rose to become senior vice president of iOS software and part of the small circle of executives that guides the company. Last year he was paid a salary of $700,000 plus a 100 percent bonus of $700,000, plus stock awards, and received a raise to $800,000 for 2012.
Here are a few images I took of Forstall at the side of Jobs during the iPad 2 launch in March 2011: