A key milestone for iOS, thank you Mr Forstall.

By | 2012/10/30

Main business story of the day is the departure of Scott Forstall from Apple. I know, that’s what journalists do, to spend time writing about what happened. Try to make sense of it all, even from unnamed sources, rumours, speculations, etc. I am trying to say it in a nice way, but it is either that they are just trying to cook up the story, or the fact that most journalists have not been in managerial positions, added so much more colours to the professionally handled management changes. Some even suggested that this is the biggest shakeup since ousting of Gil Amelio in 1997. But didn’t they say the passing of Steve Jobs was the biggest management challenge or risk for Apple not so long ago?

Scott Forstall has been with Apple for 15 years. And not long ago he was awarded a huge package to keep him on board. It can’t be a simple case of, Scott, it’s time to go, and he just packed up and left. The fact that he is staying on as an advisor to Tim Cook might seem just like a token of goodwill gesture, but if it was as bad as some stories suggested, he wouldn’t be obliged to be nice about it. I am not trying to speculate on what happened as such, but in my view this is how to professionally handle such situation. A long serving member of the company with significant contributions, the CEO say something nice about his work and publicly thank him, everyone saves face, that’s the professional way. Does it really matter what happened? What’s done is done. Scott will end up being top CEO somewhere else.

Contrast this with John Browett, that’s the difference between a good-leaver and a bad-leaver. He left for poor performance by Apple’s standard, a bad-leaver. He only got the standard announcement of his departure. But even so, he did clear his first vestment of his signing bonus, worth around $1.7 million or so, the timing of his exit was therefore also professionally handled.

The main story for me is very different. Apple just changed the mobile platform game. When Android, Windows Mobile, BBM10 and others are still busy fighting for their mobile OS market share 5 years after the introduction of iPhone, by removing the role of head of iOS, Apple in effect just revealed their game plan to stop seeing iOS and OS X as separate platforms. The merging of the iOS back to the wider software development group inside Apple is a good thing as iOS shares so much of its foundation with OS X. Carefully look at the updated products released recently, other than the OS, the key differences between the product lines are now just the human interfaces and portability. The announcements today added clarity to who is in charge of all software (including OSes), all human interfaces (hardware and software) and all hardware engineering (portability). Of course, the grand vision of iCloud as the new center of the digital hub is also in good hands.

So I say, thank you Mr Forstall, today is a key milestone of iOS which you can be proud of.

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