Meet Apple 3.0: The Tim Cook era begins

Tim Cook's firing of two senior VPs signals that he's truly taken the helm of the good ship Apple. But where will he steer it?

Finally, a top tech executive who has the right idea: Off with their heads!

Tim Cook's dramatic firing of Scott Forstall and John Browett this week sends the right message to both consumers and other Appletons, even if Wall Street doesn't like it.

[ Want to cash in on your IT experiences? InfoWorld is looking for stories of an amazing or amusing IT adventure, lesson learned, or tales from the trenches. Send your story to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it, we'll keep you anonymous and send you a $50 American Express gift cheque. ]

As senior veep for iPhone software, Forstall is ultimately the suit responsible for the amusing Siri mishaps and the downright hilarious Apple Maps mishegas. According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, Forstall's departure was hastened by his refusal to sign a letter of public apology for the Mapocalypse. Apparently he didn't think having maps with entire chunks of Tokyo and London missing or putting NYC's Brooklyn Bridge into the middle of the East River was enough of an "oops" moment. Cook was left to shoulder the apology on his own -- not a smart career move by a guy who was pegged as the next Apple CEO.

As Apple's favorite blogger, Daring Fireball's John Gruber, notes:

Forstall has been around for a long time: he started at NeXT in the early '90s and had been involved in the evolution of NeXTStep, Mac OS X, and iOS ever since. That makes it all the more telling that Apple's press release contains no quote from Tim Cook offering kind words or thanks to Forstall.

Browett, who was in charge of Apple Stores, got canned after nine months for being too much of a penny pincher, thus ticking off the company's retail employees.

Generally speaking, it's bad sport to cheer when someone loses their job (with the exception of a few politicians I could name, but won't). But I'm not feeling too sorry for these guys. It's not like they're going to wait in line collecting unemployment checks for the next 26 weeks. Some bloggers are already spreading rumors that Forstall may find a new home at Google.

Great -- those maps could use a little sprucing up too. I can't wait to see where it'll decide to put the airports.

Of course, Microsoft has played Shuffle the Exec Deck on many many occasions. But usually the departing execs have been allowed the opportunity to resign to "pursue other interests," even if Steve Ballmer's size 14 footprint is clearly visible on their behinds. No, Cook was sending a message here: Incompetence and/or arrogance will not be tolerated. I say it's about time.

As the WSJ's Jessica Lessin (and a zillion others) have noted, this is the real beginning of the Tim Cook era.

The shake-up demonstrates Mr. Cook's resolve to tackle thorny personnel issues that Mr. Jobs let fester. Mr. Jobs long kept the strong personalities at Apple in check by always casting the winning vote or by having the last word. His departure forced those clashes into the open, said people familiar with the company, ultimately pushing Mr. Cook to act.

Call it Apple 3.0. It's the most positive sign I've seen come out of Cupertino in a long time. Forstall's departure also clears the way for Apple uber designer Jonathan Ive to move up. That could make things interesting.

Personally, I like the idea that executives need to answer for their bad decisions -- or even the bad decisions of the people who work under them. It's why they make the big bucks. Wouldn't it be great if we saw a lot more of that?

Is this good news for Apple or bad? Weigh in below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Meet Apple 3.0: The Tim Cook era begins," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Recommended
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies