Apple’s Mobile Software and Retail Chiefs Announce Departure

By on Nov 2, 2012 in iPhone |

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Things have been relatively quiet for Apple this year, considering. The last couple of years have seen complaints surface over the treatment of workers at the Chinese manufacturing plants that produce their popular mobile devices (not to mention the fact that they outsource these jobs in the first place), and they lost their beloved CEO and visionary, Steve Jobs, at the end of last year, but 2012 has not delivered much news on the Apple front. Of course, the iPhone 5 finally fell into the hands of consumers after months of waiting. So that’s good news for the penultimate tech mogul. And the iPad mini is set to release well ahead of the holidays. Well, there was also that uproar over maps. Okay, apparently the company can’t go long at all without making some headlines and shaking things up. And the latest grist for the rumor mill is that they’re tossing chief executives out the window by their golden parachutes likes it’s going out of style.

So far the company has relieved two big players of their duties; Scott Forstall, who has been with the company for years and was heading up their mobile software division, and John Browett, who was named Senior Vice President in charge of retail operations back in April. The loss of Forstall apparently comes as no surprise to industry insiders. Although he clearly excelled in his position, if Apple’s mobile successes are any indicator, he was notoriously difficult to get along with, a character flaw that Jobs is said to have kept in check as CEO. But it seems that the succession of Tim Cook did not produce the same understanding, and the two have allegedly been butting heads for the past year. The situation reached the boiling point when Forstall refused to formally apologize for the “maps” snafu, forcing Cook to do the job for him. So it’s not hard to see why his head is on the chopping block.

It is equally clear why Browett got the can, although what is unclear is why they hired him in the first place. During his tenure at Dixons in the UK, the chain became notorious for their terrible customer service. And as soon as Browett took the reins at Apple he did what he apparently does best: he began laying off employees at retail locations, demoting those that remained, and offering only minimum weekly hours to part-timers, according to reports. Of course, Apple quickly back-pedaled and said that they would be reversing Browett’s “formula” and going back to their old retail model. And shortly after it was announced that Browett was out. He is slated to stay on through the New Year in order to act as an “advisor” to Cook, who is taking over his duties.

Unfortunately, it seems that plenty of duties will be handed off to others in the absence of these two bigwigs. Cook seems to be adopting a fair share of the burden, although the search for Browett’s replacement is already underway, while internet services overseer Eddy Cue will take on the twin burden of Siri and Apple Maps and head of design Jonathan Ive will handle other software concerns. This state of affairs is bound to raise concerns. Fixing the problems they’re currently facing is not as easy as getting an iPhone 5 otterbox to protect their new handset. Whenever executives at this level start getting the axe it means a period of upheaval. But whatever Cook has up his sleeve, it can’t be worse than the trouble these two caused over the past year (we hope).