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Apple Software Chief Refused to Sign Maps Apology (wsj.com)
155 points by cremnob 1844 days ago | hide | past | web | 100 comments | favorite

Hmm, sounds like the Apple variation of the 3 envelopes joke. I expect the Scott is going take a lot of the heat here as the designated person but with most things I expect the story is more nuanced.

This account is written to portray Scott as the bad guy, one could speculate that perhaps he had been arguing all along that there needed to be a different option, which no one accepted, and when the choice to ship turned out to be a poor one and he was asked to take the blame for it, he might have said "No way, I told you we shouldn't ship it, you overrode me, you sign it."

The version with Scott as the hero, refusing to compromise his principles, also fits all the 'known' facts (maps kinda sucks, Tim signed the apology) and might be communicated by nameless "people familiar with the matter" who liked Scott.

But we won't know. Some folks will know, and some folks will think they know, but having been high enough in the food chain to directly witness some executive shifts like this first hand, and to see how they got spun to the public and to others. the one thing I know is that those of us out here in the peanut gallery, we don't have an ice cube's chance in hell of knowing the 'real' story.

I always heard it as 2-envelopes.

The other evidence though is that Forstall has been depicted as "the bad guy" for a long time. Well before he was expected to be departing.


He was even described as CEO-in-Waiting. Even then, the same things were said about his personality conflicts with others:


I don't know Scott at all, I don't think I've even casually met him. My advice here is to not stress over the "why" of his departure, unless he tells you honestly why he left, or Tim tells you, everything else is just speculation.

> Forstall has been depicted as "the bad guy" for a long time.

> personality conflicts with others:

The same things have been said about Steve Jobs over and over.

Yes, and Steve Jobs was also ousted from Apple for (in part) that reason. One of the articles even described Forstall as "mini-Steve".

I'm just pointing out that "Forstall was a problem" isn't a new narrative that is being spun due to his departure, but one that has been around for some time.

With this in mind, the "never fit into the culture of Apple" line in the WSJ article is telling. Jobs never fit into the culture of Apple either -- rather, the culture of apple fit into Jobs.

It sounds like Forstall wanted to be like Steve, and, for better or for worse, he wasn't allowed to.

So, what I'm hearing is that in about 10 years, Forstall will be brought to "save" apple again?

Forstall is no Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs was no Steve Jobs... until later anyway.

Over the years I have certainly seen what I think are cases of hindsight or survivorship bias where people think "if I want to be Steve Jobs I have to be a jerk!" People can work this in a PR push like Forstall may have done in the BW profile.

"cases of hindsight or survivorship bias where people think "if I want to be Steve Jobs I have to be a jerk"

Haven't countless MBAs embraced those same ideas before Apple, or even the socially inept who myopically claim that "women like jerks"?

People enjoy looking for excuses for their poor behavior, and they'll usually find them without too much trouble.

Sure, and I'll bet it's all in the family of psychological rationalization. I've never read it, but maybe one can come out of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" with the answer, "be Steve Jobs," or one of those old-timey employment predictors like "You are: A Jerk; Possible careers: Steve Jobs or bad police officer."

"This account is written to portray Scott as the bad guy"

Journalistically, the technical term is "hatchet job."

The piece flows like an official leak. On the surface the narrative seems plausible as that of a press event. In depth, it is not.

Forestall cashed out his shares in May, more than a month before the release of the Maps app was announced and almost five months before the letter of apology. Usually, when a senior executive cashes out, it is a clear statement that the direction of the company is such that it no longer appears to be a wise investment - it expresses a loss of faith in the company.


What I find interesting in this officially unofficial narrative is what its truth would imply about Apple's leadership. In an a distorted reality where Forstall signed the letter rather than Cook, consumers would have said, "Who's that?"

More importantly, Wall Street would have said, "Who's in charge?" Forstall would have been taking on the responsibility as the face of Apple, and Cook would have looked ineffectual as a leader by failing to take responsibility.

A letter bearing Forstall's signature would be a clear statement that he was so vital to Apple's future that he was allowed to atone for such a grave error rather than being summarily sacked. It would have made it nearly impossible to fire him, because of the contradictory signals leadership would be sending.

So I doubt the narrative. I doubt that Apple's leadership is so inept as to have considered anyone but Cook signing a letter. I doubt that Cook is so inept as to not seriously consider not apologizing. I doubt that anyone at Apple is so naive as to have misunderstood what Forstall's stock sale meant.

I believe the truth is simple.

At his level, it's pretty much up or out for "Type A personalities." Forstall did not succeed Jobs as CEO. Six months after Job's death, he sold his stock. A year later he publicly took the fall for Maps. In return, Apple lets 75,000 options vest while he advises Cook over the next year. By signing the apology, Cook looks compassionate to consumers. By sacking Forstall, he looks decisive to Wall Street.

The officially unofficial narrative serves it's purpose. It's more interesting than one about a negotiated severance package and the implementation of a succession plan.

And by getting the media to accuse him of acting Jobsian, Forstall displays a Jobsian brilliance. I suspect there is already a queue of companies seeking him as CEO.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also cashed out all of his vested shares around the same time. Does that indicate a lack of faith in the company? No. When you have a ton of shares and the stock is at an all-time high, and you have even more shares vesting, it makes sense to sell. In fact, executives have very little say over when they can sell--as the ultimate insiders, they usually arrange to sell their stock months, if not years, in advance, by filing a plan under SEC Rule 10b5-1. These plans typically say "sell x shares whenever the stock goes above y". In this way, shares can be eventually sold, but not at the executive's discretion.

If what I've read about Forstall is true (from the links posted below) it seems Tim Cook just took a golden opportunity to take out a competitor for his position.

> ...might be communicated by nameless "people familiar with the matter" who liked Scott.

Good luck finding such people, though. I'm not sure what it says (you could take it as evidence that Forstall was as bad as this story portrays, or as evidence that people had it out for him and would be willing to unjustly badmouth him), but he does not seem to be well liked at all, especially among insiders.

Good comment. One thing seems to be clear: This article (and others) is a strategic part (pawn) of a pre-meditated PR strategy. The optics look like a purge; at the 1 yr mark of a new CEO this is quite typical. Some may be given the kiss of death, others handed just enough rope to do themselves in. Etc. Like you say, the peanut gallery comprised of us outside the situation know less than many much closer, who themselves likely know next to nothing at this stage.

> Mr. Forstall also recently sent some members of Apple's iOS software team an email saying he felt the group wasn't working on enough big ideas in mobile software

He had that right.

But whose fault would that be, if not his? Wouldn't it be the job of the head of iOS development to identify the ideas worth pursuing and setting the teams/projects/schedules accordingly?

If the guy ostensibly setting the feature list sends out an email saying "you guys aren't making the right stuff" ... how can you parse that in a way other than "asshole"/"not taking responsibility"?

Or does Apple have an internal project structure more along the lines of Valve?

I have no doubt in my mind that Apple itself leaked this info to WSJ. What is surprising is how willing they were to throw him under the bus. Would be interesting to find out what was behind all this. Maybe to pre-empt anything Forstall could say against Apple/Cook or other Apple Execs in future interviews?

Count this towards my ignorance towards the business world, but are executives of large companies really that petty and childish?

It's not so much as petty as it is a need to control the direction of the conversation. By placing a stake in the ground, the conversation will stay in the general area that the company (and I'm not including only Apple here) wants it to. Part of the field called "public relations".

^ a phenomenon known as "anchoring", for anyone interested.


A lot of people about the top care more about their position and the power it represents rather than what it actually means for the company. Yeah, they are egomaniac children, most of the time.

Nice reference, I did not know it. "The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution 'fail' while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to 'succeed' if that requires them to lose power within the institution.

I like the reference to Milton as well : "It is better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven."

I actually see this rather as evidence of a strong corporate culture which recognizes the need for execs to take responsibility for mistakes, as the chapter from the Lashinsky book on Apple management famously quoted about the rubric being crossed when VP's are promoted: http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-on-the-difference-...

(Kinda wish a few more companies made this expectation clear... too much deadwood at the VP level in many IT companies I deal with...)

It's hard to say what happened since we haven't heard Forstall's side of the story but maybe then Cook or the board saw the tension between Ive and Forstall camps, and recognized that losing Ive to another company would be devastating. So they set Forstall up to fail by setting him up to get Maps done in two years (or however long they were planning)

Regardless, even if Maps is totally Forstall's fault, they still threw him under the bus with this story.

I think it's mostly a signal to the market that they've heard the ridicule.

the game to get into that seat is not exactly set in favor of the magnanimous nice guys.

It's mostly sociopaths in the upper ranks of companies.

It's not really that petty. This stuff is the essence about what leadership teams tend to deal with.

Not just executives, a majority of non-leaf nodes (but not all). The more money that's at stake, the more petty and childish people act. Acting like a child is an actual strategy people use. If people act rationally it provides a stronger basis for criticism and makes them a target. If someone acts like a child then people say "wow that person's a real stupid jackass that only wants power." If someone tries to rationalize bumping off their competition, its "wow that person is a real threat."

More likely is Forstall leaked this himself if you consider who looks to benefit from the article.

.... Or it is completely made up...or the reporter is mates with an intern that overheard it in the lunch room...etc

We all know how Apple can't keep any secrets and how leaks always happen. <sarcasm>

Sounds like a good move. It's important to signal to the entire Apple organization that nobody is untouchable if they screw up. Apple's culture is generally pretty tolerant of mistakes as long as people fix them quickly. I think in this instance, the problem was that 1) He didn't publicly accept responsibility for the problem. and 2) He couldn't fix the problems fast enough.

I know that right after the maps issues came to light, I suddenly got a bunch of recruiting emails from the Apple mapping team. Sounds like the team was caught flat-footed and didn't really have a solid plan to immediately fix things. When you have a pressing and urgent systems engineering problem, I definitely think it's a bad idea to suddenly distract your team with tons of recruiting interviews. Building a good team takes a lot of time and focus. I would normally assume that Apple would transfer their best engineers from other teams to fix the maps app, but maybe Scott didn't have enough goodwill built up within the organization to make that happen.

I feel it's important to emphasise this: we have nothing to suggest whether it was because the software team was forced to ship early, because Forstall didn't agree it was so far behind Maps, or other disagreements.

Don't blame Forstall for not signing the letter if you don't know the cockup was his fault.

It's been quoted to death, but I feel Jobs was right on the money when he said that at the executive level, there's no "it's not my fault."

It was at the very least his responsibility, and this story paints him as not accepting that responsibility. That doesn't look good. If the story is true, I'd consider it a big enough disagreement to remove someone over.

You can be an executive and still be in a situation where a higher ranking executive can override you even when you are the domain expert and they aren't. I don't know if that's what happened here or not, but if it did, then there is in fact such thing as "it's not my fault."

If Steve Jobs was talking about himself when he made that statement, then it's spot on. He micromanaged the shit out of that company and nearly always got his way. Fortunately, he did a hell of a job. If he screwed up though, he would have had not a single person to blame but himself, because he personally called most of the shots.

While I haven't been an executive at a billion dollar company, I have a good amount of leadership experience from my time in the military. I always try to be blatantly honest with myself and others. If I personally fuck something up, I tend to immediately own up to it and propose a solution. However, there have been a few very rare occasions where I've either had myself and my team thrown under the bus for something that was beyond our control, or failed to complete a task because it was simply impossible to achieve under the given deadline. Only a coward would let someone place undeserved blame on himself or his subordinates.

We are talking about Tim Cook here. A guy that can get a laptop to your door, to your specifications, in 2-3 days from halfway around the world. If you aren't familiar with international logistics (and you being in the military you probably already know all about logistics) that type of thing is practically unheard of.

If he can do his job and do it so well that the company is known for shipping times then what could you possibly tell him about why your product doesn't work? It's too hard?

Tim Cook is Apple's CEO. While he might negotiate agreements that lead to an improved logistics situation, there are thousands of other people involved in getting Apple products to their destination.

But assuming he was, surely you aren't suggesting that Apple's speedy delivery times are the pinnacle of human achievement, and that by their accomplishment of this, that every other human undertaking must be trivial.

Writing a Google maps clone is extremely difficult, and if Apple expected to be successful with it already with the meager amount of resources they have put into it, then it was an impossible task and I'd be delighted to tell Tim Cook, that it was in fact, too hard.

As it has been mentioned elsewhere, Google has like 7000 people working on maps, while Apple has 13000 people period. It's doubtful that they would have over 60 percent of their workforce plugging away on a maps clone, so clearly they can't expect their program to be better, especially when Google has been doing this for several years already.

But my comment wasn't even intended to excuse the state of IOS Maps, I was simply pointing out that while we don't know for sure what happened, there are some possible scenarios where the failure wasn't this guy's fault. I was also pointing out that the statement "there is no such thing as not my fault" at the executive level, it a statement that is only true when an executive is given free reign over his work, without anyone else overriding or commandeering.

Before Cook was CEO he was SVP of worldwide operations. It was his job to get those thousands of people and suppliers marching to the same beat.

And yes, speedy delivery time is an achievement. It might be for computers in this instance but militaries and countries are run on their logistics. While we take for advantage shopping for fresh food most people don't realise the amount of preparation that goes into getting fruit to ripen in the stores.

So no, I don't think Maps are hard. The hard part (data acquisition) has already been done. But it can't be a "hobby" either. If they were planning to do their own maps, and the purchase of C3 and Placebase years ago meant they were, they could have looked around and saw that Nokia, Microsoft, and Google, were shelling out serious cash to get it right Apple spending a tenth of that was naive.

As CEO, Cook was right take the blame. If he publicly passed the buck to Forstall I would seriously question his leadership.

There is never it's not my fault --- unless you're not attached to your job. Accepting responsibility for your division, even if you personally did nothing wrong, is part of the territory.

If you work with people that constantly offer excuses, even if they are "I was overruled", it is an awful work experience. Imagine you have to team up with that guy to code something and as soon as it goes wrong, he jumps to blame you. Even if it is entirely you're fault (you should claim it yourself, not be called out by a coworker), he still was working on the project. You can't expect to get anywhere by denying your involvement in toxic software that you are clearly involved in.

There is a difference between accepting responsibility for the actions of your subordinates/ your own actions and accepting blame for the failures of one of your superiors who stepped out of his area of responsibility and into yours just to override you on something that he had no business doing. If your leader sets you up for failure, the same logic you are using to assign the blame to yourself assigns the blame to him.

There is an even larger difference between being a person who is capable of recognizing when their employer is wrongfully blaming something on them and the person who constantly blames things on other people.

I don't know if applies in this situation or not. For all I know this guy could have personally written bad code for maps. The point is, universal statements such as "there is never it's not my fault at the executive level" are just plain false. It is an executive's fault if his subordinates do shitty work, but if the executive's boss ordered something that was impossible to accomplish with a given set of time, manpower, and resources then there is a good possibility that it isn't his fault. He might have to take the fall for it, but at the end of the day if that's what happened, then he knows he did the best he could and therefore shouldn't give a shit what anyone else thinks.

I love my job, I also loved having the opportunity to provide leadership and guidance for others. It is because of the love I had for my job that I would accept responsibility only for the things that are actually my fault(which includes the actions of my subordinates.) I understand that as a supervisor there's always the chance that I would get fired, demoted, or otherwise punished for a superior's mistakes, but that doesn't make it my fault or responsibility unless I actually made a mistake.

Steve Jobs can say "there is no it's not my fault" because at Apple, the buck stopped with him. I don't recall hearing anyone ever telling Steve Jobs that he couldn't do something, or overriding his design decisions. For lower levels of leadership, such as I experienced, there were about 50 different people who would constantly tell me what to do, even though only one person was actually tasked with doing so. Sometimes, my orders were poorly thought out. Sometimes they even contradicted orders given by other people. In situations like these, as I stated before, only a coward would accept the blame without evaluating the specific situation beforehand.

I'm not suggesting the person that overruled you is free from blame. I absolutely am suggesting that if you are in that situation you have to take your lumps and accept it, not deflect ("it's not my fault because Tom told me we had to use xyz"). The other person who is at fault should also be accepting blame, but it's not your job to render the blame. In fact, you're never at all the arbiter of blame with anyone lateral, above you, or (usually) anyone in another department; it's always your fault.

Your boss told you to use xyz technology? You (and others, if necessary) should have convinced him otherwise. If you can't and his decision is a bad one, you have to be the one that says no. That's right -- it's your job on the line, not his. If you signed up to be vp of IOS software, you're in the wrong if something is broken in IOS software. That's why you need to learn to say "no", not only to clients, but to coworkers as well. If that's absolutely not possible, it's time to put on your big boy/girl pants and take the blame because you couldn't fix a problem that you knew existed.

If you're in a situation where different people are telling you different things, then it sounds like you get to decide the specific implementation. It's even probable that those different people telling you different things are really giving you their unsolicited opinion, rather than micromanaging your career.

I think it's cowardly to avoid responsibility for what you sign your name to.

People at this level generally don't have a problem saying "no." That's not usually the issue. The issue in a situation where a CEO is overriding other executives and dictating bad decisions outside of their domain expertise is that it's politics at this point.

The fact of the matter is that you can do your job extremely well, do everything right by any rational measure, have a strong political position, and yet still get screwed by unanticipated or uncontrollable external and internal forces, up to and including nonsense of others on the executive team, especially in an organization with a poor/weak/incompetent CEO or equivalent.

It happens all the time.

It's pretty easy and cheap to make a blanket "it's always your fault" statement, but back here in the real world it's typically much more nuanced and complicated.

I agree that I'll never be the arbiter of blame. I also agree that subordinates should give counsel to their supervisors when it can save them from making a mistake. Unfortunately, from my experience a lot of times a person's pride gets in the way of accepting such advice. Some of the best ideas I've ever heard came from people who were both young and inexperienced.

As far as having multiple people telling me what to do, I was mostly referring to my time in the military. Take my word for it, I wasn't expected to choose a specific implementation (unless it was theirs), and they were definitely not offering friendly advice!

You can be an executive and still be in a situation where a higher ranking executive can override you even when you are the domain expert and they aren't.

Then you quit.

You don't even have to quit. You just say: no, I'm not doing that. Maybe they fire you and maybe they don't, but that's their problem. You just focus on doing the right thing.

Exactly. "Do precisely what the boss tells you to" and "quit" do not form a dichotomy of actions.

Sometimes the reason for the overriding is stupid.

Sometimes the reason is that you can't see the forest for the trees because of your domain expertise.

If the higher ranking person has a decent level of clue, they'll always be aware that they're basically -betting- that they're right about it being the latter rather than the former.

If the higher ranking person has any level of personal honour, they'll precommit to taking full responsibility for anything that goes wrong as a result ... and to quietly letting you keep any glory that accrues for it going right, on the assumption that that was likely mostly a result of your decisions, not of their single override.

Given the preconditions of your boss having clue and honour, quitting should not be the automatic response to their overriding you even if you don't immediately understand why they're doing so.

In fact, I'd suggest that if you don't trust them sufficiently to accept that they'll only do it in cases where they genuinely believe they have a better reason than your reasons for disagreeing, you should be trying to move elsewhere right now, because you have no faith in your superior's ability to use their power appropriately, which is going to be no fun for anybody.

Then you quit.

Better would be to make sure that you have good documentation of the event in the case of the shit hitting the fan.

As said by other posts before, that is completely irrelevant in executive level. No one would or should care about your documentation at that point, as it might be for rank-and-file workers.

Get convinced of the CEO strategy and execute it, or stay convinced, convince the board and do your way - and in either case, take responsibility for whatever happens to the company in the whole, there is no such thing as "your separate area" or "only your direct actions/subordinates" at that level.

actually, I found this the most effective way to deal with idiot management. "Ok, I'll do it after you confirm it by email" - 90% chicken out

I don't know if that's what happened here or not

There's a lot we don't know. Was the court case the result of political squabbling, or maybe there were disagreements as to its validity? There's a long line of decisions and personalities in play on the Apple side, and while I think in context we can riff on Maps being the straw that broke the camel's back (the firing was sooner after the apology than the apology was from the court order), we don't have the slightest inkling what the camel looks like, or even whether it's actually a camel.

He's a very smart guy, he simply may not have made it all the way into the consumer side. A Linux distribution should try to get a pro bono out of him while he has extra time.

The apology in question is not the one court ordered by a UK judge. The apology in question is the one Apple issued and Tim Cook signed regarding the iOS Maps cock-up.

Ah, crap. I thought I might have been getting my wires crossed, I even searched Google news!

> Jobs was right on the money when he said that at the executive level, there's no "it's not my fault."

I see the truth in that, but you have to admit Jobs was probably the person for whom it was easiest to make this admonition.

There is a big difference between refusing to apologize and "it's not my fault".

"Don't blame Forstall for not signing the letter if you don't know the cockup was his fault"

Sometimes you have to take the fall for something that's not your fault. This is particularly true at high levels of management - or rather, it should be.

It doesn't matter whether it was his personal fault - Scott Forstall was in charge of iOS, full stop. iOS was his remit, maps included.

How can a cockup in his area be somehow not his responsibility? For any possible contributing cause - number and expertise people working on the product, handling of acquisitions in the sector, strategic deals with other companies and partners involved, the marketing-built expectations of consumers, the PR followup of the maps - as a senior VP, it is his direct duty to make sure that stuff there happens in a favorable way and take responsibility for whatever happened.

Even if a major reason is disagreements with CEO or board or other VP's - it is still clearly his responsibility to solve those disagreements and ensure that they don't harm results. As in the Jobs' citation, somewhere between the janitor and his position that ceases to be a valid excuse.

I'm more inclined to blame Forstall, especially after reading this feature on him by Businessweek.


I hope I'm reading the situation incorrectly, but all I get out of this is that Forstall has an epic ego.

He is asked to sign an apology letter for the short comings of an app that he was in charge of and was at least confident enough in to present to the world. When it was time to pay the piper and accept responsibility for the app he told the world was great, he shirks all responsibility.

I fully support the decision to remove him from his position.

Well sure if you believe that's how it happened.

Or, he was against releasing, but was overridden (by Cook perhaps), then refused to apologise because it wasn't his mistake...

The reality is, we don't, and probably won't know. Seems strange though, that Forestall did exceptionally good releases [1] up until iOS 6 and then all of a sudden he just dropped the ball with maps...

[1] Excluding the fact that new iOSes generally suck for older iPhones, and force a hardware upgrade.

iOS is behind Apple's present riches and Forstall is the hard ass visionary genius that made that happen. Before that, he was a primary architect on OS X before it was even called OS X. He's the single most important engineer at Apple (since Bertrand Serlet was tossed out last year). To pooh pooh this guy's contributions as many are doing, while celebrating Cook as some great visionary genius is totally absurd.

Cook is a bean counter with no vision. He is very good at bean counting and has a lot of success at it. He is not appropriate as anything more than transitionary CEO for a visionary company.

Replace visionaries with bean counters that have allegiance to the established hierarchical order of bean counters? This works well for commodity companies that sell fizzy sugar water. Will it work for Apple this time around? Last time they went this route with Sculley there were some problems.

Do you have any info about just what Forstall did on OS X back in the day? I can't find much beyond some pretty vague statements, and I don't recall hearing his name at all until iOS started getting attention, while names like Tevanian showed up quite a lot back when Mac OS X was first taking shape.

> This works well for commodity companies that sell fizzy sugar water.

Why can't you just say soda, pop or whatever regional dialect you prefer? I don't understand why any time anyone ever says this it has to phrased in the most condescending way possible.

Because it's highly relevant to the story I was discussing. Jobs had asked Sculley, head of PepsiCo at the time, Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Sculley then ran Apple from the perspective if his experience at a commodity company, driving the company to the edge of bankruptcy and irrelevance. It worked out well for me, I bought a lot of Apple stock at around $5 a share. But it almost destroyed Apple.

This quote has since been simplified to asking people in technical fields if they want to make fizzy sugar water. Familiarity with this story is widespread in the industry and not an obscure reference, and in this case I wanted to discuss both Jobs, Sculley, Apple, and the result of having a bean counter type person who is excellent at reducing manufacturing costs within a commodity company be in charge of a company whose entire value is based on not being a commodity.

Because steve jobs said it that way... and we all love worshipping jobs.

There wouldn't be too many people who would be confident they could pick winner better than Jobs.

Cooks is no Sculley. The latter was very ineffective as CEO and made huge mistakes such as porting Apple's OS to the PowerPC platform. As such, he was ousted by the board. Cooks is far more capable, and has the advantage of being "home-grown" as opposed to coming from another company.

How it actually happened doesn't matter.

If you've accepted the role of svp of IOS software, you're at fault if there is horribly broken IOS software.

Lopping off a senior exec over the mapping fiasco is completely warranted, but here's the next problem: The exec had several people feeding him information that the mapping app was somehow acceptable.

If Tim Cook does his job right: There will be several of those underling heads rolling, either by Tim himself or some one who takes over Forstall's area. (And which one of those two possibilities will tell us a lot about Tim Cook.)

> The exec had several people feeding him information that the mapping app was somehow acceptable.

That might be an excuse Tim Cook himself can reasonably use, but not the exec directly responsible for the development of the new Maps app. He simply can't say he was getting information from a small number of direct underlings - he should have been in the trenches talking to the developers, testers and beta users and getting feedback directly.

He was putting his reputation on the line by being the original public presenter for the new Maps, and if he was prepared to stand up in front of the world and say "this is great" he should have first been prepared to dig a little deeper into the true nature of the new app.

> He simply can't say he was getting information from a small number of direct underlings - he should have been in the trenches talking to the developers, testers and beta users and getting feedback directly.

True enough, but my point is that there is a bigger problem: He ran an org in which nobody tackled him in the hallway and said "WTF This is a piece of crap! We can't release such a POS, and if you do I quit!"

An organization is not fixed by chopping only one head, there are no doubt lieutenants that need to be axed.

He ran an org in which nobody tackled him in the hallway

Do you know that they didn't? And there is a lot of gray area between tackling and release that a good manager should be able to dive into.

> Do you know that they didn't?

I know that they either didn't tell him, or didn't tell him in a manner that he listened.

It's really not rocket science: An organization is not fixed by chopping only one head.

Clearly, removing everyone involved in failure is the route to success.

Try seeing at least one shade of gray, you'll go farther.

Wait how do you know he wasn't told this?

I think you might have misread; what I saw was "exec responsible for Maps goes away. His underlings, who were feeding him bad data but which he was apparently unable or unwilling to replace, also go away." Whether this is the right thing or not can be debated, but arguably it's why people on that level of the enterprise get paid the big bucks.

> but arguably it's why people on that level of the enterprise get paid the big bucks.

People several levels down are getting big bucks too, they're necks are only incrementally less exposed. It's not like these are gov't jobs.

If an exec has subordinates feeding him misleading information, then that is not an excuse, but an aggravating circumstance.

His primary job is not "building good Maps", it is "building an organization that delivers good Maps". Having failed products may be excusable for some reasons; having products fail because your team is not functioning is not excusable, having your team be like that is 100% direct execs fault and responsibility if he has been there for more than a few months.

Maps are really freaking hard to make. I wouldn't of signed it either. There was no need apologize in the first place. Jobs wouldn't of apologized either; I think we are starting to see the downturn in apple. We all make mistakes but its better to look strong instead of weak in business.

Operating systems are just as hard, yet they are routinely released, patched, upgraded and they usually work.

I feel like this is the sort of situation that shouldn't even be featured in the discussion. Who else signed the press report? It's totally irrelevant.

I agree it would have been very strange for the letter to be signed by both Tim Cook and Scott Forstall. For one thing, it would make Cook look smaller than Jobs, who, if I recall correctly, never had a co-signer on such a letter. It wouldn't have looked much better for Cook if Forstall had signed the letter alone, given its significance to the company and its customers.

My guess is that Forstall refused to sign off on the public apology. Nobody was asking him to sign the letter, but he was asked by Cook to stand behind it. Failure to do so was probably the last straw for his remaining in an active role at Apple (a role he clearly was at least contemplating leaving after his big stock sale).

According to this article, Scott refusing to sign the apology is the reason he was fired. How is that irrelevant?

Apple Inc. executive Scott Forstall was asked to leave the company after he refused to sign his name to a letter apologizing for shortcomings in Apple's new mapping service, according to people familiar with the matter.

That's their justification. I'm still skeptical. No offense, but an apology not signed by Cook isn't an Apple apology. Tim was gonna' sign it no matter what I believe.

My gut says that it would have been signed by both.

I'm guessing it wasn't a literal "signing", but rather he refused to put his name on it, probably because he disagreed with it in principle.

It would have been signed by Tim Cook on behalf of everyone at Apple, but my guess is that Forstall wasn't on board, regardless of whether his name appeared on the public announcement or not.

I think this is about more than the signing of the apology letter, it's also about the way that Forstall presented Apple Maps to the world as a perfect finished product even as he reportedly knew that there were serious flaws in the data. That's what made the apology necessary.

Apple Maps should have been presented as a first step in a great solution and the issues acknowledged (with promised improvements) far earlier.

Forstall has been a wonderful engineer and manager at Apple and he is largely responsible for the success of iOS, but letting him avoid taking responsibility for this might've been poisonous to Apple in the long term.

Funny thing is that if this leaked out before he got fired, I think it would have been seen as a positive thing for Forstall. That he stood up for the Apple Maps just like a lot of Apple fans, and that it was just the press making a big deal out of nothing.

Sounds like a typical dictatorship changeover. Leaders forced to sign statements they don't agree with, then removed when they don't. Failures blamed on sabotage. Everyone chanting the new tune... while the economy fails.

I don't think this has anything to do with Scott's departure. He sold most of his shares 6 months ago.. It's time for him to leave and build his own company.

> The 43-year-old Mr. Forstall recently told people that there is no "decider" now that Mr. Jobs is gone

I guess they just made room for one.

Who knows what the previous history is, but given the way maps rolled out, maybe Forstall could have simply given credence to the notion that maps was just a beginning instead of giving in to the blowhard sales pitches of apple keynotes. Apple says that Apple TV is just a hobby, maybe he should have said that Maps is just the beginning of a new road.

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