The Scott Forstall fallout

From inside Apple, the Scott Forstall fallout by Om Malik is one of the most interesting pieces about the recent Apple management reorganisation I’ve read so far. Malik also seems one of the few to mention an aspect I’ve been considering since I heard the news that Forstall has been shown the door:

In conversations, I learned about something that is troubling from a long-term point of view. Unlike in the Jobs era, when the company would ship features when they were ready for primetime, a culture of schedule-driven releases has become commonplace.

The time-based schedule is one of the reasons why Siri and Maps arrived as half-baked products and were met with derision. Many engineers inside Apple could foresee problems with Maps. Why? Because Maps were driven by a time schedule.

Maps and Siri are complex products whose dependencies (for the lack of a better word) go deep into different parts of the phone and even the network. The schedule-driven release culture makes folks less daring — why take arrows in your back for failing to deliver a radical new feature on a pre-dictated time? If this cultural warp continues, Apple might have a bigger headache on its hands. Ive’s appointment as the Human Interface honcho means that more risk-taking needs to come into the products. 

[Emphasis mine]

Both inside and outside Apple, the general feeling regarding Scott Forstall’s departure seems to be some kind of relief. On Twitter I quipped: Forstall might be a moron behind the scenes, but perhaps iOS wouldn’t be where it is without his work. So let’s be a little less snarky, ok?

It appears that Forstall had a bit of an attitude problem, acting like a little Jobs inside his department, not being particularly collaborative towards other departments and executives, etc. In another piece, Om Malik is spot-on about what has possibly been the greatest mistake Forstall made, i.e. forgetting “that he was Steve’s guy, not Steve Jobs.” But attitude apart, I’m wondering where would iOS development be without a demanding figure like Forstall. It’s easy to say “Maybe we would have a better Maps app and a better Siri”, but who knows, maybe we’d still be on iOS 4 for all we know. That’s why I’m really curious to see how the new management will proceed with iOS from now on, what changes they’ll make, what the pace of updates will be, and so on. And Craig Federighi taking care of both iOS and OS X is also a fascinating scenario if you think about the mutual influences of the two operating systems. Interesting times await us indeed. 

In the meantime, I for one would like to thank Forstall for taking iOS where it’s now and wish him the best for his future endeavours.

(Via Daring Fireball)

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!