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Scott Forstall, the executive responsible for Apple’s iOS mobile operating system – including maps – is to leave Apple next year, while retail boss John Browett has left with immediate effect.
Forstall was senior vice president of iOS software and was a key figure at several Apple product launch and keynote speeches. Last month he showed off new iOS features at the company’s iPhone 5 launch event .
One of the features he demonstrated at that event, iOS Maps, was revealed to be filled with errors and omissions when the operating system launched a week later. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, was later forced to apologise that Maps did not meet the company’s “incredibly high standard”.
The last time Apple faced a similar public failure, with the so-called “antennagate” problem on the iPhone 4, iPhone hardware boss Mark Papermaster left the company shortly afterwards.
There were rumoured tensions between Forstall and other Apple executives over aspects of iOS, particularly design. Forstall was said to favour an ornamental style of design, known to its critics as skeuomorphism. The style seemed at odds with the minimal aesthetic displayed in the work of Sir Jony Ive’s hardware design team.
Asked about that apparent design contradiction in an interview with the Telegraph earlier this year, Ive said: “My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that’s our focus and that’s our responsibility. In terms of those elements you’re talking about, I’m not really connected to that.”
In a statement, Apple said that in addition to his role as leader of industrial design, Ive would now have responsibility for “human interface” across the company. Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, will take over Apple Maps and Siri. Craig Federighi, who is responsible for OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system, will also take on responsibility for iOS.
Apple said Forstall will leave the company next year “and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim”. Forstall joined Apple in 1997 when the company purchased computer firm NeXT, a move that brought the company’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, back to the firm.
Apple also announced that John Browett was leaving his role in charge of Apple’s retail arm . The former Dixons boss was paid a $56m (£36m) ‘golden hello’ when he joined the company five months ago. Apple said it is already searching for a new retail boss.
In a statement, Tim Cook said: “We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history.
“The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”
Last week in San Jose, California, Apple announced the iPad mini, as well as a new fourth generation iPad and upgrades to its laptop and desktop computers. The iPad mini will be released on Friday.