By Greg Mills
I have read the most popular book on the life of Steve Jobs. What it boils down to is that Jobs was an amazing human being, with both cunning creativity and serious personality flaws. Genius is often based on the notion of “all the eggs in one basket.” We see that strength in one area may be balanced with weakness in another area.
While that analogy may not be strictly true, one wonders how much more Steve Jobs might have accomplished without the abrasiveness that defined his ability to work with others. It is possible to fire someone without reducing them to a smoldering mass of protoplasm.
By all accounts I have read, Scott Forstall is either inclined to emulate the bipolar genius/ogre behavior of Steve Jobs or was actually also built that way. Many considered Scott to be the heir apparent at Apple for the CEO position.
Removing Forstall from his position of power Apple loosened up countless creative people who worked under him, but the company also lost someone who lead the fundamental technology for the future. People used to say, “Young man, the future is plastic.” Now they might say the future is mobile computing.
Considered the architect of iOS, there is no doubt Forstall has a bright future. It is too bad it might not be at Apple. The apparent blow-out between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Forstall was over a rather un-Apple-ish apology for the overblown gaffs in the new iOS Maps app.
Apple generally does everything so well that when something fails to measure up to that standard of excellence the press falls on the company like a pack of hungry wolves. There were even calls for Cook’s resignation over relatively minor issues in the Maps app that in my opinion are way overblown.
I have used the Maps app, and although I have seen minor imperfections, Map apps are notoriously difficult to smooth out. Forstall was clearly doing that, as I saw improvement on the server side of Maps already.
The “you are holding it wrong” quotation attributed to Jobs on the antenna-gate flap over the iPhone 4 might have sensitized Cook to seek the “kinder and gentler” road for Apple PR. Forstall apparently refused to sign off on a letter of apology for issues in Maps.
Not having been a fly on the wall at product development meetings regarding Maps, one can only speculate as to what happened in discussions regarding launching an app that was half baked. The pressure to launch things at Apple is known to destroy marriages and send people to the doctor for Xanax prescriptions.
Cook is under pressure of his own to excel at running the world’s most valuable company. Always compared to Jobs, Forstall not getting on board and signing the darn letter seemed to have been the last straw. They put Scott in a “consultant to the CEO” position designed to keep him on a short leash for at least a year.
Amazing job offers from major players are sure to flood Forstall’s email box. Can Cook and Forstall bury the hatchet? Time will tell. With the money Forstall has amassed at Apple, he might do as Jobs did with NEXT: launch his own company and strike out on his own. He could certainly launch a software company for developing iOS apps. Even better, perhaps a drag ‘n drop iOS app Author program.
I wish the best for both Apple and Scott Forstall.
That is Greg’s Bite.