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Scott Forstall

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Scott Forstall
Scott Forstall presenting at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2012.
Forstall in 2012
BornAugust 1969 (age 54)[1]
EducationStanford University (B.S., M.S.)
Known forFormer SVP at Apple Inc.

Scott James Forstall (born 28 August 1969) is an American software engineer, known for leading the original software development team for the iPhone and iPad. He is also a Broadway producer known for co-producing the Tony award-winning Fun Home and Eclipsed with Molly Forstall, his wife, among others. Having spent his career first at NeXT and then Apple, he was the senior vice president (SVP) of iOS Software at Apple Inc. from 2007 until October 2012.

Early life and education


Forstall grew up in a middle-class family in Kitsap County, Washington, the second-born of three boys to a registered-nurse mother Jeanne and an engineer father Tom Forstall.[2][3] His older brother Bruce is also a senior software design engineer, at Microsoft.[4]

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 IIe computers.[4]

He was skipped forward a year, entering Olympic High School in Bremerton, Washington, early where classmates recall his immersion in competitive chess, history, and general knowledge, on occasion competing at the state level. He achieved a 4.0 GPA and earned the position of valedictorian, a position he shared with a classmate, Molly Brown, 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.[4]

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.[5] During his time at Stanford, Forstall was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.[6]



NeXT / Apple


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 SVP in January 2003.[4][7] During this period, he supervised the creation of the Safari web browser. Lisa Melton, a senior developer on the Safari team, credited Forstall for being willing to trust the instincts of his team and respecting their ability to develop the browser in secret.[8]

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".[9] Jobs favored the former approach but pitted the Macintosh and the iPod team, led by Forstall and Tony Fadell respectively, against each other in an internal competition. Forstall won that fierce competition to create iOS. The decision enabled the success of the iPhone as a platform for third-party developers: using a well-known desktop operating system as its basis allowed the many third-party Mac developers to write software for the iPhone with minimal retraining.[10] 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.[4]

In 2006, Forstall became responsible for Mac OS X releases after Avie Tevanian stepped down as the company's Chief Software Technology Officer and before being named SVP of iPhone Software.[4][11][12][13][14] Forstall received credit as he "ran the iOS mobile software team like clockwork and was widely respected for his ability to perform under pressure".[15]

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 iPhone OS 2.0 and iPhone 3G, 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.[4][16]

Departure from Apple


The aftermath of the release of iOS 6, on September 19, 2012, proved a troubled period for Apple. The newly introduced Maps application, completely designed in-house by Apple, was criticized for being underdeveloped, buggy and lacking in detail.[17] In addition, the clock app used a design based on the trademarked Swiss railway clock, which Apple had failed to license, forcing Apple to pay Swiss railways a reported $21 million in compensation.[18] In October, 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.[19]

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." 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.[20] On the same day, John Browett, who was SVP of retail, was dismissed immediately after only six months on the job.[21]

Neither Forstall nor any other Apple executive has commented publicly on his departure beyond the initial press statement, but it is generally presumed that Forstall left his position involuntarily. All information about the reasons for his departure therefore come from anonymous sources. Cook's aim since becoming CEO has been reported to be building a culture of harmony, which meant "weeding out people with disagreeable personalities—people Jobs tolerated and even held close, like Forstall,"[22] although Apple Senior Director of Engineering Michael Lopp "believes that Apple's ability to innovate came from tension and disagreement."[23] 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.[15] Being forced to choose between the two, Cook reportedly chose to retain Ive since Forstall was not collaborative.[24] Forstall was very close to and referred to as a mini-Steve Jobs, so Jobs' death left Forstall without a protector.[4] 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.[25] 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".[26] 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.[19][27]

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".[28][29] Forstall was vigorously 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.[30]

Forstall's skeuomorphic design style, strongly advocated by former CEO Steve Jobs,[24] was reported to have also been controversial and divided the Apple design team.[31] In a 2012 interview, Ive, then head of hardware design only, refused to comment on the iOS user interface, "In terms of those elements you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that."[32]



Forstall did not make public appearances after his departure from Apple for a number of years. A report in December 2013 said that he had been concentrating on travel, advising charities, and providing informal advice to some small companies.[33]

On April 17, 2015, Forstall made his first tweet, which revealed that he is a co-producer of the Broadway version of the musical Fun Home.[34] It was his first public appearance since departing from Apple in 2012. On June 7, 2015, the Forstall-produced musical won five awards at the Tonys.

In 2015, Forstall was reported to be working as an advisor with Snap Inc.[35][36]

On June 20, 2017, Forstall gave his first public interview after leaving Apple. He was interviewed in the Computer History Museum by John Markoff about the creation of the iPhone on the 10th anniversary of its sales launch.[37]

On April 18, 2020, Forstall announced that he was a producer for the Broadway musical Hadestown. The musical went on to win 8 Tony Awards.[38]

On May 20, 2020, Forstall made an appearance in Code.org's online Break event.[39]

On December 17, 2020, Forstall was revealed to be one of the co-creators of WordArt alongside Apple engineer Nat Brown, while interning for Microsoft in 1991.[40]

In April 2021, Forstall served as one of Apple's witnesses on Epic Games v. Apple.[41]

See also



  1. ^ "Key People - all about Steve Jobs.com". all about Steve Jobs.com. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  2. ^ "Anniversary: Forstall 45 Years". Kitsap Sun. Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  3. ^ "Act III". Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Satariano, Adam; Burrows, Peter; Stone, Brad (October 14, 2011). "Scott Forstall, the Sorcerer's Apprentice at Apple". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  5. ^ Tom, Christian (September 24, 2007). "Junior Convocation Featuring iPhone's Scott Forstall". The Unofficial Stanford Blog. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Phi Kappa Psi (1997). Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (14th ed.). White Plains, New York: Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company. p. 368. OCLC 324731269.
  7. ^ Viticci, Federico (October 29, 2012). "Major Changes at Apple: Scott Forstall Leaving, Jony Ive To Lead Human Interface Across Company". MacStories. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  8. ^ Melton, Don (January 3, 2013). "Keeping Safari a secret". Don Melton. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  9. ^ Merchant, Brian (June 13, 2017). "The secret origin story of the iPhone". The Verge. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Siracusa, John (March 7, 2008). "Can't help falling in love". Ars Technica. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  11. ^ Diaz, Jesus (March 23, 2011). "Father Of Mac OS X Is Leaving Apple". Gizmodo. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  12. ^ Saracevic, Al (March 27, 2006). "Adios Avie". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "Apple Leadership - Scott Forstall". Apple Inc. Archived from the original on June 30, 2012.
  14. ^ Yarow, Jay (October 14, 2011). "Scott Forstall Became One Of Apple's Top Executives After Winning An "Explosive" Internal Competition To Design The iPhone Software". Business Insider. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Lessin, Jessica E. (October 30, 2012). "Apple Shake-Up Signals Tim Cook Era". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  16. ^ Milian, Mark (October 5, 2011). "Apple's Siri voice assistant based on extensive research". CNN. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  17. ^ "The Amazing iOS 6 Maps". Tumblr. October 9, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  18. ^ Fiegerman, Seth (November 11, 2012). "Apple Pays Swiss Federal Railways $21 Million For Clock Icon [VIDEO]". Mashable.
  19. ^ a b Arthur, Charles (October 30, 2012). "Apple's Tim Cook shows ruthless streak in firing maps and retail executives". The Guardian. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  20. ^ Cotton, Katie; Dowling, Steve (October 29, 2012). "Apple Announces Changes to Increase Collaboration Across Hardware, Software & Services" (Press release). Apple Inc. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  21. ^ Heath, Alex (April 25, 2012). "Apple Welcomes New Retail VP John Browett With $60 Million In Stock". Cult of Mac. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  22. ^ Morphy, Erika (October 30, 2012). "This is Tim Cook's Apple: A Company Where 'Mini-Steve' Gets the Axe". Forbes. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  23. ^ Yarow, Jay (November 12, 2012). "Fired Apple Executive Scott Forstall 'Was The Best Approximation Of Steve Jobs That Apple Had Left'". Business Insider. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  24. ^ a b Wong, Raymond (November 3, 2012). "Apple iOS boss Scott Forstall reportedly refused to attend Jonathan Ive's meetings". BGR. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  25. ^ Marsal, Katie (May 2, 2012). "Apple exec Scott Forstall sells 95% of company shares worth $38.7M". AppleInsider. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  26. ^ Kelion, Leo (November 29, 2012). "BBC News - Tony Fadell: From iPod father to thermostat start-up". BBC. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  27. ^ Yarow, Jay (October 29, 2012). "Why Apple's Mobile Leader Scott Forstall Is Out". Business Insider. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  28. ^ Kerstetter, Jim (November 3, 2012). "A tale of two execs: Microsoft's Sinofsky and Apple's Forstall". CNET. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  29. ^ Elmer-DeWitt, Philip (September 29, 2012). "Does Apple have a Scott Forstall problem?". Fortune. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  30. ^ Lashinsky, Adam (October 29, 2012). "Inside Apple's major shakeup". Fortune. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  31. ^ Kim, Arnold. "Scott Forstall Reportedly Forced Out of Apple". MacRumors. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  32. ^ Richmond, Shane (May 23, 2012). "Jonathan Ive interview: simplicity isn't simple". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  33. ^ Yarow, Jay (December 9, 2013). "After Getting Pushed Out Of Apple, Here's What Former iOS Leader Scott Forstall Has Been Up To". Business Insider. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  34. ^ Forstall, Scott [@forstall] (April 17, 2015). "I'm thrilled to be co-producing the Broadway musical Fun Home http://t.co/PqrKKZGcxY opening this Sunday. Bravo to the phenomenal team!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved December 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  35. ^ Heisler, Yoni (April 17, 2015). "Ex-iOS boss Scott Forstall resurfaces in a place you wouldn't expect". BGR. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  36. ^ Constine, Josh (April 16, 2015). "Snapchat Is Paying Ex-Apple Exec Scott Forstall 0.11% To Be An Advisor". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  37. ^ Markoff, John (June 22, 2017). "Creating Magic: A Conversation with Original iPhone Engineers & Software Team Lead Scott Forstall". Computer History Museum. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  38. ^ Forstall, Scott [@forstall] (June 10, 2019). "Bravo to our whole @hadestown team for winning eight #TonyAwards including Best Musical! What a magical night for a wonderful show about love and hope" (Tweet). Retrieved December 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  39. ^ "Code.org - Code Break 9.0: Events with Macklemore and Scott Forstall". Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  40. ^ Brown, Nat [@natbro] (December 17, 2020). "@vr_sam Yep, me and a punk named @forstall" (Tweet). Archived from the original on July 25, 2021. Retrieved December 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  41. ^ Robertson, Adi (April 28, 2021). "Here's who Apple and Epic are calling to testify in next week's trial". The Verge. Retrieved May 24, 2021.