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BusinessWeek profiles Apple exec, iOS father Forstall

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, October 13, 2011
News Categories: Apple

Bloomberg BusinessWeek has posted a lengthy profile of Apple’s senior vice president of iPhone Software Scott Forstall which is to be its cover story in this week’s print edition. Calling Forstall a “sorcerer’s apprentice,” the article points out a number of ways in which Forstall resembles his long-time mentor Steve Jobs. In particular, Forstall is known for keeping a fairly consistent wardrobe across media event appearances, sporting a Jobs-like jeans and black top—a zippered sweater, instead of a turtleneck—and for his taste for the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, the same car Jobs was known to drive.

Beyond trivialities, Forstall is portrayed to have a fierce competitive streak, a relentless drive for perfection, and an ability to occasionally alienate co-workers—all traits also attributed to Jobs, although the latter was primarily evident in his early years. “He was as close to Steve as anybody at the company,” said Andy Miller, who headed Apple’s fledgling iAd group before leaving the company this summer. “When he says stuff, people listen.” Former Apple software engineer Mike Lee added, “I once referred to Scott as Apple’s chief a–hole. And I didn’t mean it as a criticism. I meant it as a compliment. You could say the same thing about Steve Jobs.”

Forstall was hired by Jobs’ NeXT Computer directly out of Stanford, and oversaw the development of Mac OS X’s Aqua interface, and later Mac OS X Leopard, before the birth of the iPhone. According to the report, Forstall—and his idea to shrink OS X down to run on less-powerful hardware—was pitted against former Apple exec Tony Fadell—the father of the iPod, who wanted to base the iPhone’s OS on Linux—by Jobs in a bake-off to determine the best approach. As is evident, Forstall’s team won, and subsequent tensions between the two are said to be an important factor in Fadell’s decision to leave the company.

Forstall is also said to have a strained relationship with other Apple executives, in particular Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield, who—according to former associates of Forstall—avoid meetings with him unless CEO Tim Cook is present. Despite his battles with other executives, and his past mistakes—the article claims that it was Forstall’s idea to let engineers carry prototypes of the iPhone 4 for testing purposes, one of which was infamously obtained by Gizmodo.com—Forstall is said to be integral to the company’s relationship with iOS developers, and is seen by many as crucial to Apple’s future success, as iOS is expected to play a large role in the company’s product line going forward.

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