Scott Forstall

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Scott Forstall
Scott Forstall presenting at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2012.
Scott Forstall presenting at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2012.
Born 1968/1969 (age 44–45)[1]
Alma mater Stanford University (B.S. and M.S.)

Scott Forstall is an American software engineer who was the senior vice president (SVP) of iOS Software at Apple Inc. from 2007 until October 2012.

Early life and education[edit]

According to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, Forstall grew up in a middle-class family in Kitsap County, Washington, the second-born of three boys to a registered-nurse mother and an engineer father. His older brother Bruce is also a senior software design engineer, at Microsoft.[1]

A gifted student for whom skills such as programming "came easily where they were difficult for others", Forstall qualified for advanced-placement science and math class in junior high school, and gained experience programming on Apple IIes.[1]

He was skipped forward a year, entering high school early, where classmates recall his immersion in competitive chess, history, and general knowledge, on occasion competing at the state level. He achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA and earned the position of valedictorian, a position he shared with the woman who would later become his wife. He had established the goal of being a "designer of high-tech electronics equipment", as he proclaimed in an interview with a local newspaper.[1]

Enrolling at Stanford University, he graduated in 1991 with a degree in symbolic systems. The next year he received his master's degree in computer science, also from Stanford.[2] During his time at Stanford, Forstall was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.[citation needed]


Forstall joined Steve Jobs's NeXT in 1992 and stayed when it was purchased by Apple in 1997. Forstall was then placed in charge of designing user interfaces for a reinvigorated Macintosh line. In 2000, Forstall became a leading designer of the Mac's new Aqua user interface, known for its water-themed visual cues such as translucent icons and reflections, making him a rising star in the company. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in January 2003.[1][3]

In 2005, when Jobs began planning the iPhone, he had a choice to either "shrink the Mac, which would be an epic feat of engineering, or enlarge the iPod". Jobs favored the former approach but pitted the Macintosh and iPod teams, led by Forstall and Tony Fadell, respectively, against each other in an internal competition. Forstall won that fierce competition to create iOS, and that strengthened his position in the company since all hardware executives required the support of Forstall's software engineers in order to add features. Forstall was also responsible for creating a software developer's kit for programmers to build iPhone apps, as well as an App Store within iTunes.[1]

In 2006, Forstall became responsible for Mac OS X releases after Avadis Tevanian stepped down as the company's Chief Software Technology Officer and before being named Senior Vice President of iPhone Software.[4][5][6] [4][5][1] Forstall received credit as he "ran the iOS mobile software team like clockwork and was widely respected for his ability to perform under pressure".[7]

He has spoken publicly at Apple Worldwide Developers Conferences, including talks about Mac OS X Leopard in 2006 and iPhone software development in 2008, later after the release of the iPhone 2.0 and 3G versions, and on January 27, 2010, at Apple's 2010 iPad keynote. At WWDC 2011, Forstall introduced iOS 5. Forstall also appears in the iOS 5 video, narrating about three-quarters of the clip, and in almost every major Apple iOS special event. At the "Let's talk iPhone" event launching the iPhone 4S, he took the stage to demonstrate the phone's Siri voice recognition technology, which was originally developed at SRI International.[1][8]

Departure from Apple[edit]

On October 29, 2012, Apple announced in a press release "that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple [in 2013] and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim." That day, John Browett, who was SVP of retail, was dismissed immediately after only six months on the job (having originally received 100,000 shares, worth $60 million, when he joined).[9] Forstall's duties were divided among four other Apple executives: design SVP Jonathan Ive assumed leadership of Apple's Human Interface team, Craig Federighi became the new head of iOS software engineering, services chief Eddy Cue took over responsibilities for Maps and Siri, and Bob Mansfield (previously SVP of hardware engineering) "unretired" to oversee a new technology group.[10] This announcement came shortly after Apple reported third-quarter results, in which revenues and profits grew less than predicted, the second quarter in a row that the company missed analysts' expectations.[11]

Forstall's skeuomorphic design style, strongly advocated by former CEO Steve Jobs,[12] has been controversial and divided the Apple design team (it was particularly disliked by Jonathan Ive).[13] The Siri intelligent personal voice assistant that Forstall introduced in September 2011 has received a mixed reception with some observers regarding it as a "flop".[14][15] Forstall was rigorously criticized after the new Maps app, introduced in iOS 6, received criticism for inaccuracies that were not up to Apple standards. According to Adam Lashinsky of Fortune, when Apple issued a formal apology for the errors in Maps, Forstall refused to sign it. Under long-standing practice at Apple, Forstall was the "directly responsible individual" for Maps, and his refusal to sign the apology convinced Cook that Forstall had to go.[16]

It was generally regarded that Forstall was forced to step down as software chief. Cook's direction since becoming CEO was to build a culture of harmony, which meant "weeding out people with disagreeable personalities—people Jobs tolerated and even held close, like Forstall,"[17] although others noted that "Apple's ability to innovate came from tension and disagreement."[18] Steve Jobs was referred to as the "decider" who had the final say on products and features while he was CEO, reportedly keeping the "strong personalities at Apple in check by always casting the winning vote or by having the last word", so after Jobs' death many of these executive conflicts became public. Forstall had such a poor relationship with Ive and Mansfield that he could not be in a meeting with them unless Cook mediated; reportedly, Forstall and Ive did not cooperate at any level.[7] Being forced to choose between the two, Cook reportedly chose to retain Ive since Forstall was not collaborative.[12] Forstall was very close to and referred to as a mini-Steve Jobs, so Jobs' death left Forstall without a protector.[1] Forstall was also referred to as the CEO-in-waiting by Fortune magazine and the book "Inside Apple" (written by Adam Lashinsky), a profile that made him unpopular at Apple.[19] Forstall was said to be responsible for the departure of Jean-Marie Hullot (CTO of applications) in 2005 and Tony Fadell (SVP of hardware engineering) in 2008; Fadell remarked in an interview with the BBC that Forstall's firing was justified and he "got what he deserved".[20] Jon Rubinstein, Fadell's predecessor as SVP of hardware, also had a strained relationship with Forstall. After Jobs' death in 2011, it had been reported that Forstall was trying to gather power to challenge Cook.[11][21]

Forstall's departure came shortly before that of Microsoft's Steve Sinofsky. Forstall and Sinofsky were both considered rising stars and potential CEOs in waiting, having been successfully overseeing development of their company's main software (iOS and Windows, respectively). However both executives were also considered difficult to work with, being unpopular in their respective companies for empire building and marginalizing rivals. The forced resignations of Forstall and Sinofsky came shortly after their division's release of their latest software, iOS 6 and Windows 8, respectively, both of which were marked by controversy (the inaccuracies in the new Maps app for iOS6, and the confusing interface of Windows 8) compared to previous iterations which were largely well received.[14][22]

Unlike Sinofsky, who continues to appear in the news,[23] Forstall has not made any public appearances since his resignation.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Satariano, Adam; Peter Burrows; Brad Stone (2011-12-01). "Scott Forstall, the Sorcerer's Apprentice at Apple". Businessweek. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  2. ^ "Junior Convocation Featuring iPhone's Scott Forstall". The Unofficial Stanford Blog. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  3. ^ Viticci, Federico (2012-10-29). "Major Changes at Apple: Scott Forstall Leaving, Jony Ive To Lead Human Interface Across Company". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  4. ^ Father Of Mac OS X Is Leaving Apple, Gizmodo, 2011-03-23.
  5. ^ Adios Avie, SF Gate Tech Chronicles, 2006-03-27.
  6. ^ "Apple - Press Info - Biography of Scott Forstall". Apple Inc. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  7. ^ a b Lessin, Jessica E. (2012-10-30). "Apple Shake-Up Signals Tim Cook Era -". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  8. ^ Milian, Mark (2011-10-04). "Apple's Siri voice assistant based on extensive research". CNN. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  9. ^ "Apple Welcomes New Retail VP John Browett With $60 Million In Stock". Cult of Mac. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  10. ^ "Apple Announces Changes to Increase Collaboration Across Hardware, Software & Services". Apple Inc. 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  11. ^ a b Charles Arthur, technology editor (2012-10-30). "Apple's Tim Cook shows ruthless streak in firing maps and retail executives | Technology |". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  12. ^ a b [1]
  13. ^ Kim, Arnold. "Scott Forstall Reportedly Forced Out of Apple". MacRumours. 
  14. ^ a b [2]
  15. ^ "Editor, Apple 2.0". CNN. 
  16. ^ Lashinsky, Adam (October 29, 2012). "Inside Apple's major shakeup". Fortune (magazine)Fortune. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  17. ^ Erika Morphy (2012-04-18). "This is Tim Cook's Apple: A Company Where 'Mini-Steve' Gets the Axe". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  18. ^ Jay Yarow (2012-11-12). "Ex-Employee: Why Firing Scott Forstall Was A Mistake". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^ Kelion, Leo (2012-11-29). "BBC News - Tony Fadell: From iPod father to thermostat start-up". Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  21. ^ Jay Yarow (2012-10-29). "Why Scott Forstall Is Out". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  22. ^ Bedigian, Louis (2012-11-14). Forbes |url= missing title (help). 
  23. ^ a b Business Insider: Apple ousted Scott Forstall a year ago today