In a surprise press release today, Apple announced that two of its key employees are leaving the company. Both Scott Forstall, the Vice President of iOS Software, and John Browett, the head of retail, will no longer be employed by Apple.
As a part of this major restructuring, Apple employees Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi will be taking on additional responsibilities with Ive heading up the Human Interface team across the company.
Currently Ive is Apple’s Industrial Design leader, and his work has led Apple’s design trends for over ten years. Eddy Cue will take over on Siri and Maps, while Craig Federighi will lead iOS and OS X.
Here’s what Tim Cook had to say in the press release:
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.”
Forstall isn’t scheduled to leave the company until 2013, and until that time, he will serve as an adviser to Tim Cook. Browett, Apple’s former head of retail, has yet to be replaced, and for now, Apple’s retail team will report directly to Cook.
There’s no word on why Forstall is out, but speculation points to his involvement in the recently released Maps, which was widely criticized, and Siri, which has not been well received. As the person in charge of both Maps and Siri, Forstall was likely held responsible for the problems.
Other speculation targets design differences between Forstall and Ive and a lack of ingenuity from Forstall. Reports from a recent Businessweek profile revealed that Forstall had a strained relationship with both Ive and Mansfield, but there’s no official word on why Forstall is leaving or where he’s going to go next.
This shake up will likely have a significant impact on Apple’s future design direction.