Implications of Apple’s leadership changes

A lot of news is coming out of Cupertino this evening as Apple announces plans to change two major people on its leadership team. Both Scott Forstall and John Browett, Senior Vice President of iOS Software and Head of Apple Retail, respectively, will be leaving by the end of the year.

While the details are few and speculation is high, it appears as if we can cease wondering whether or not Tim Cook is actually the strong-willed CEO he needs to be. It is said that Forstall is on his way out because of the serious iOS 6 Maps flub this year. Unfortunately for Scott, his team was responsible for some of the simplest yet most functional things in iOS 6 like Do Not Disturb and Remind Me Later features. Of course, as Mark Papermaster left after the iPhone 4 Antennagate issue, Forstall is said to be leaving because of his refusal to put his name on the subject when Apple issued an apology.

It is no wonder why Apple chose today to announce the news. In addition to every tech outlet being bombarded by Windows 8 unveilings and reviews, the New York Stock Exchange halted trading due to Hurricane Sandy.

Apple has already laid out its succession plan in the meantime, with Jony Ive picking up the slack for Human Interface design, Eddy Cue will be taking over Siri as well as Maps, the App Store, iTunes Store, iBookstore, and iCloud, while Bob Mansfield will be taking on some responsibilities and additional work in other areas of the company.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the succession plan will be Jony Ive’s work in Human Interface design. To date, we haven’t seen Ive design any of Apple’s user interfaces, although he is the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at the Cupertino company. Of course, that means he takes care of hardware, but what will come of Ive behind the desk of software development?

We will undoubtedly see the company evolve its user interfaces to include a huge number of changes, but does Ive’s new role mean we can expect a bigger leap – a true leap – with iOS 7? It’s hard to believe we’re already on the seventh iteration of iPhone software even though the user interface and overall design language has remained very much the same. Will we see a fundamental shift in the design of the iPhone software going forward? We seem to think so, and we think it will be the introduction of a much more integrated design between hardware and software.

Of course, until we see Apple’s new products come 2013, we won’t know any different, will we?

  • Update: While Scott Forstall is no longer listed on Apple’s Leadership page, you can still find his bio by typing in the link directly (or clicking here). Does this mean the switch up is going to happen faster than we originally thought? It would appear so as Apple has seen fit to update Jony Ive’s biography to include his new Human Interface direction as well as Eddy Cue’s and Bob Mansfield’s pages.