Apple (IW 500/9) on Monday announced that the executive in charge of Maps, Siri and other software in its culture-changing iPhones is leaving as part of a shakeup in the upper ranks of the company.
Apple chief Tim Cook said the departure of Scott Forstall and enhanced roles of Jon Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi were part of a move to better integrate hardware, software, and services.
"We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple's history," Cook said.
Launches in the past two months of iPhone 5, the mobile operating system iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano along with applications result from "relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services," according to Cook.
Analysts credit the Apple "ecosystem" of coveted apps, sleek gadgets, and carefully curated services such as iTunes with making the company a dominant player in modern mobile Internet lifestyles.
Forstall had been billed as one of the Apple executives with the potential to be a captivating pitchman for the company's products, helping to fill the shoes of late co-founder Steve Jobs at launch events.
Forstall will leave Apple next year and serve as an advisor to Cook until his departure.
Ive will have "Human Interface" with devices added to his role as leader of Industrial Design at Apple. Ive is credited with being the person behind the look and feel of Apple gadgets.
Siri virtual personal assistant and Maps software will be added to Cue's online services group, which includes iTunes and the App Store.
Glitch-Ridden Maps App
Apple apologized last month for its glitch-ridden maps application in the new operating system used by the iPhone 5 and urged customers to use rival programs while improvements are made.
"At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment," chief executive Tim Cook said in an open letter.
"We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."
Apple developed its own mapping program included in its new mobile iOS 6 operating system, and in doing so booted off Google Maps, which had been the default program for Apple devices.
But the new Apple program immediately drew scorn for omitting key landmarks and cities, failing to identify correct locations and distorting views from its images.
Cook encouraged customers to use alternatives, including Google, as Apple works out its bugs.
Although the maps application does not generate revenues directly, it often links to searches, and keeps users in the company's "ecosystem," which can be important over the long term.
But the maps glitches have tarnished the reputation of the iconic U.S. firm, and some analysts have suggested the problems could drive customers away from the iPhone.
It was not clear on Monday whether the Maps debacle was a factor in Forstall's departure.
Federighi will head the teams behind the operating software for Apple mobile devices and Macintosh computers.
Also out is John Browett, who was in charge of Apple's real-world shops. Apple's retail team will report directly to Cook until a replacement is hired for Browett.
Browett's tenure included a store staff-reduction plan that ended with the California company backtracking and apologizing for having "messed up."
-- Glenn Chapman, AFP
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012