Apple CEO Tim Cook Speaks: Management Shake-up, Departures Of Forstall And Browett, Intended For Better Collaboration

 @redletterdave
on December 06 2012 11:55 AM

When Apple announced the departures of executives Scott Forstall and John Browett -- the chiefs of the company's iOS and retail departments, respectively -- in late October, many wondered what the reason could be for their removal. In a lengthy interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Apple CEO Tim Cook explains part of why these moves were made.

While many analysts insisted Browett, the former CEO of Dixons, wasn't the right man for the retail gig in the first place, many continued to wonder why Scott Forstall, who was handpicked by Steve Jobs at NeXT and came to Apple when NeXT was acquired in 1996, also needed to be removed.

In his interview with Bloomberg Businessweek's Josh Tyrangiel, the Apple CEO explained that the shake-up in management was intended to drive collaboration between different areas of the ever-growing company.

"The changes -- it’s not a matter of going from no collaboration to collaboration," Cook said. "We have an enormous level of collaboration in Apple, but it’s a matter of taking it to another level. You look at what we are great at. There are many things. But the one thing we do, which I think no one else does, is integrate hardware, software and services in such a way that most consumers begin to not differentiate anymore. They just care that the experience is fantastic."

The restructuring process at Apple saw Apple divide and assign the former responsibilities of Forstall to four current Apple executives, including lead designer Jony Ive, software guru Eddy Cue, Mac SVP Craig Federighi and hardware expert Bob Mansfield. The move, according to cook, was driven by the belief that these men were simply the right people for these individual jobs. After all, the iOS experience is by far the most crucial department in Apple right now, with that software powering the most popular and in-demand products in the world.

"Jony [Ive, senior vice president of industrial design], who I think has the best taste of anyone in the world and the best design skills, now has responsibility for the human interface. I mean, look at our products. [Cook reaches for his iPhone.] The face of this is the software, right? And the face of this iPad is the software. So it’s saying Jony has done a remarkable job leading our hardware design, so let’s also have Jony responsible for the software and the look and feel of the software, not the underlying architecture and so forth, but the look and feel.

"I don’t think there’s anybody in the world that has a better taste than he does. So I think he’s very special. He’s an original. We also placed Bob [Mansfield, senior vice president of technologies] in a position where he leads all of silicon and takes over all of the wireless stuff in the company. We had grown fairly quickly, and we had different wireless groups. We’ve got some really cool ideas, some very ambitious plans in this area. And so it places him leading all of that. Arguably, there’s no finer engineering manager in the world. He is in a class by himself.

"And Craig [Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering] is unbelievable. We don’t subscribe to the vision that the OS for iPhones and iPads should be the same as Mac. As you know, iOS and Mac OS are built on the same base. And Craig has always managed the common elements. And so this is a logical extension. Customers want iOS and Mac OS X to work together seamlessly, not to be the same, but to work together seamlessly."

Cook said his belief that "collaboration is essential in innovation" is not a new concept at Apple; "Steve [Jobs] very deeply believed this" as well, as collaboration and deep integration between hardware, software and services was always a core belief in Cupertino, Calif.

Cook did not mention why the removals of Forstall and Browett specifically contributed to making the Apple family more cohesive and collaborative, but he insisted that the moves were largely made for positive reasons, rather than ones many believe -- misbehavior, power struggles and a schism in the direction of iOS.

"We want diversity of thought," Cook said. "We want diversity of style. We want people to be themselves. It’s this great thing about Apple. You don’t have to be somebody else. You don’t have to put on a face when you go to work and be something different. But the thing that ties us all is we’re brought together by values. We want to do the right thing. We want to be honest and straightforward. We admit when we’re wrong and have the courage to change."

Read the full interview at Bloomberg Businessweek.

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