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The Scott Forstall interview
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-06-22 22:46:26

The Computer History Museum organised an interview with Scott Forstall, led by John Markoff. Forstall led the iPhone operating system (now iOS) team for the iPhone and the iPad from their inception, and was a close friend and confidant of Steve Jobs. He was ousted by Tim Cook, supposedly because Forstall was a challenger to Cook's position and power inside the company. On top of that, much like Steve Jobs, Forstall supposedly wasn't the easiest person to get along with, and Cook wanted a more harmonious Apple.

Ever since his departure from Apple, Forstall has been silent. This interview is the first time he's opened up about his long, long tenure at first NeXT (where he was hired on the spot by Steve Jobs himself) and then Apple, and quite honestly, I didn't really know what to expect.

It turns out that if you close your eyes while listening to Forstall speak, it's almost like you're hearing Steve Jobs. The man is charming, well-spoken, has a thoughtful or funny reply to every question, sprinkles it with a touching or heartwarming story or anecdote - all the while showing a deep understanding of what made Apple's products great without having to resort to technical details or PR-approved talking points.

As the interview ended and I pondered the whole thing, it just became so very clear why Cook would want to get rid of Forstall as quickly as he could. Can you imagine a boring bean counter like Cook sharing the stage with a man who so closely resembles and feels like Steve Jobs?

It might very well be the case that a Jobs-like figure like Forstall would not have yielded the kinds of immense financial success Apple has enjoyed under Cook, but I can't help but shake the feeling that an Apple with Forstall at the helm - or even just an Apple with Forstall, period - would be a more exciting, a more innovative, a more boundary-pushing Apple. We'll most likely never know.

Then again... It wouldn't be the first time someone gets ousted from Apple, only to return when the time is right.

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Steve seemed closer to Scott Forstall than even Ive
By Mr. Dee on 2017-06-23 02:28:00
I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, wish there was more. It was so clear, thoughtful and coherent compared to the first part with those three engineers who worked on parts of iOS.

Scott seemed to have been deeply affected by Jobs death and I believe its part of why he didn't even bother contesting Tim Cooks decision to let him go. Its like a huge part of the reason for working there was gone. Come on, if I had clout like Steve, revered, feared, highly respected, paying for my lunch every Tuesday and interested enough to lock himself in a bathroom at a friends house to call you and text, who wouldn't feel arrogant, I know I would.

When Steve passed, I eventually saw Scott as the face of Apple and I understood why. Steve said in his auto-bio Jony was his spiritual partner, but Scott was more like his spiritual son. If Steve had lived a couple more years, I think he would have probably ironed out whatever animosity existed between Ive, Cook and Forstall.

As you rightly noted, he really is a captivating person to listen to. Even his personal stories like his shark incident, that terrible flu and his background and love for theater made him sound a lot more rounded than Tim. He really should still be at Apple and I think he will eventually come back, maybe in 5 to 10 years.

Thats why he is still so respectful and doesn't bad mouth anybody there. He know's it. Come on, the guy has a Masters in Artificial Intelligence. Who is better to lead that than him?
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RE: Steve seemed closer to Scott Forstall than even Ive
By REM2000 on 2017-06-23 09:59:03
thats a great comment and put in much better words my exact sentiment.
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RE: Steve seemed closer to Scott Forstall than even Ive
By tylerdurden on 2017-06-23 13:37:59
I wonder if the public really knew how the sausage is made inside those big tech corps, if they still would establish those silly emotional connections.
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RE[2]: Steve seemed closer to Scott Forstall than even Ive
By kwan_e on 2017-06-23 17:03:51
> if they still would establish those silly emotional connections.

No, because people are easily swayed. More than they'd like to admit.
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Umm?
By kristoph on 2017-06-24 09:41:12
My understanding from folks who worked with him was that Scott was asked to leave because he didn't think Apple should apologize to its customers over the problems with the early version of the maps app.

The story goes that Tim insisted and Scott said 'no'.

A situation like that is untenable for a person in charge so Scott had to go. No one ( except Thom, apparently ) has ever suggested that Tim Cook is ever unfair to employees or does things for his own gain. He is demanding, sure, but is never an unfair or insecure leader.

K
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RE: Umm?
By d3vi1 on 2017-06-24 10:30:00
> My understanding from folks who worked with him was that Scott was asked to leave because he didn't think Apple should apologize to its customers over the problems with the early version of the maps

I can understand the refusal. The Maps application was excellent from the first release. The problem was the actual map data that Scott had no control over. In more than half of the EU countries it took Google more than 5 years to add even the basic road infrastructure. Everyone expected Apple to have from the start a perfect application and perfect data sources. And that was a ridiculous expectation to begin with.

The latest versions of Navigon or iGO are still inferior to the App that Scot's team designed.
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RE: Umm?
By Thom_Holwerda on 2017-06-24 17:24:34
> No one ( except Thom, apparently ) has ever suggested that Tim Cook is ever unfair to employees or does things for his own gain. He is demanding, sure, but is never an unfair or insecure leader.

The Maps apology story is unconfirmed and has no basis in any facts - nobody has ever said that was the reason for his dismissal.

Read the Wikipedia paragraph on his dismissal - I linked to it, and it directly contradicts what you say, while confirming what I said (he was fired because like Jobs, he was a disagreeable person), which I have further confirmed from other sources as well.
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RE[2]: Umm?
By Ford Prefect on 2017-06-24 21:15:11
Apple forced their maps application including the inferior data onto their customers. The purpose was to cut out Google after their falling out.

This is what they needed to apologize for. They let their customers down for company politics. It was probably Steve Jobs' decision to make the move, in which case you are right that Scott Forstall would be the wrong person to sign an apology and take the blame.

Edited 2017-06-24 21:16 UTC
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RE[3]: Umm?
By Moochman on 2017-06-25 11:01:09
Huh? How did they force anything? Installed by default is not the same as forcing - most people just kept on using Google Maps until Apple Maps caught up.
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