Late yesterday afternoon, Apple announced a major overhaul of the upper level management structure in Cupertino. According to the Apple press release, Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as a personal adviser to CEO, Tim Cook until his departure. Jony Ive will add oversight of Apple software development to his existing duties with hardware design. Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will also be adding more responsibilities to their roles.
“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “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.”
Despite Cook’s attempts to put a positive spin on things, there seems to have been much friction on the part of Forstall. According to Mike Wehner writing for the Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), “On the most basic level, Forstall’s design philosophy doesn’t fall perfectly in line with the rest of Apple. Where hardware guru Jony Ive sees sleek and simple lines, Forstall sees overly ornate virtual bookshelves, a ludicrously detailed digital notebook, and other skeuomorphic touches that were the trademark of the Steve Jobs era. In Cook’s quest to make Apple his own, keeping Forstall around probably wasn’t helping matters.”
Harry McCracken of Time Tech adds:
If you wanted to charge one person with making sure that Apple’s devices were as pleasing as possible, Ive is the obvious first choice, and I’m not positive whether anyone qualifies as a strong runner-up. At some point, it should become obvious if his expanded role is taking Apple software in a new direction; the logical guess, given his interest in streamlined, relentlessly consistent design, is that skeuomorphism— the kind-of-campy mimicking of real-world details like plush leather and shiny wood surfaces — may become a thing of the past.
The bottom line: Ive has always been one of the most important people at Apple, but with this reshuffling, he gets the opportunity to become the most important person at Apple. That makes this the most important thing that’s happened at the company in the post-Jobs era.