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New bio piece reveals Scott Forstall's role at Apple

updated 01:50 pm EDT, Thu October 13, 2011

Exec indirectly responsible for iPhone 4 leak

Apple's senior VP for iOS, Scott Forstall, was indirectly responsible for the leak of an iPhone 4 prototype in 2010, a new Businessweek profile suggests. A former Apple manager claims that Forstall persuaded the company's CEO at the time, Steve Jobs, to allow dozens of engineers to carry prototypes so they could do better testing of network performance and reduce dropped calls. It was one of Forstall's engineers who accidentally left an iPhone 4 in a pub, which eventually resulted in a Gizmodo hands-on piece and a high-profile criminal investigation.

The profile also reveals some other facts about Forstall, such as his close ties to Jobs. "He was as close to Steve as anybody at the company," says Andy Miller, the former head of Apple's iAd division. Forstall is in fact said to have a car identical to Jobs' -- a silver Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG -- and an on-stage uniform, that being jeans, black shoes and a black zippered sweater.

Sources claim the VP has a tense relationship with other Apple executives, such as lead designer Jonathan Ive and Mac hardware leader Bob Mansfield. The conflict is allegedly intense enough that some executives will avoid meetings with him unless CEO Tim Cook is there as well. Two former Apple executives, Tony Fadell and Jean-Marie Hullot, are said to have left Apple after regularly fighting with Forstall. Another, Jon Rubinstein, reportedly turned away from conversations at a Silicon Valley party last month when Forstall's name was mentioned.

"I once referred to Scott as Apple's chief a-hole," says a former Apple software engineer, Mike Lee. "And I meant it as a compliment." AT&T CTO John Donovan comments that Forstall "knows what he wants," and can be "relentless" about pursuing it.

A more positive perspective comes from Google's senior VP of social business, Vic Gundotra. "Scott's a pretty amazing guy," he remarks. "In terms of running an operating system team, he's one of the best I've ever seen." Such views may be reflected in Apple revenues, since the iPhone now forms the largest part of Apple's business, dwarfing even Macs, and the iPad is on the rise.

By Electronista Staff


  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2009



    So the bad-mouthing has begun. Let's tear apart Apple and dig up all their dirty laundry. I would expect this type of journalism from an investment or Microsoft site. What does MacNN has against Scott?

    As far as blaming Scott for an engineer leaving an iPhone prototype at a bar, that's stupid. It's like blaming the DMV for every automobile accident. It's the driver/engineer that's at fault, not Scott.

  1. ggirton

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999



    I found this interesting. There is bound to be a mix of powerful personalities at a company that has achieved what Apple have done. They will have to rebalance & shift in order not to lose some of their team.
    To me, this kind of description is a more intriguing story than "Santa Monica Apple Store may use all-glass roof", as wonderful as that may turn out to be.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007


    Indirectly responsible

    Well, I guess that is not inaccurate. Supervisors are usually indirectly responsible for theire charges activities.

  1. facebook_Mark

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Oct 2011



    Every innovative company needs the kind of personality that is ascribed to Forstall.

    If the worst thing people can say about him is that he knows what he wants and that he's relentless, that's kind of an indication that Jobs left behind someone who has the same contempt for mediocre thinking which - as a fan of the company for over 25 years - is a good thing in my book.

    As for stories of people leaving or avoiding meetings, maybe these are a little overblown. However, if they're not, it's amazing how Apple harnesses that creative friction as opposed to other companies which would implode (I can think of several without even drawing breath).

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