Apple replaces heads of software, retail
Following the launch of their flawed mapping software, Apple's CEO announced the company will replace two top executives, the head of software, responsible for Apple Maps and Siri, as well as the head of retail.
Apple¬†Inc CEO Tim¬†Cook¬†on Monday replaced the heads of its software and retail units in the company's biggest executive shake-up in a decade following embarrassing problems with its new mapping program and unpopular store-related decisions.
Forstall, seen as a polarizing figure inside¬†Apple, had been billed as one of the future candidates to take the top job at¬†Apple. He was the executive behind the panned¬†Apple¬†Maps app that the company announced with much fanfare in summer.
Apple¬†said in a statement that retail chief John Browett "is leaving," without elaborating; that a search for his replacement is underway; and the retail team would report directly to¬†Cook. Browett had riled up the retail store staff when he reduced the number of employees in his unit.
The departures come a little more than a year into¬†Cook's tenure as chief executive.¬†Cook¬†replaced the late¬†Applefounder Steve Jobs, considered one of the best executives of all times by many analysts and investors.
Apple¬†upended the tech industry with the release of its¬†iPhone¬†smartphone¬†in 2007. But the company is facing increasing competition from search giant Google, whose¬†Android¬†has become the world's most popular mobile software, as well as from Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft and Samsung.
"Competition is moving much faster to be more¬†Apple-like," said¬†Tim Bajarin, president of technology research and consulting firm¬†Creative Strategies. "They're finding they need to streamline the management team in order to get things going faster."
Apple's launch of its own mapping service in September, when it began selling the¬†iPhone¬†5 and rolled out its updated¬†iOS¬†6 software, led to widespread user complaints, particularly since it replaced the popular Google Inc Maps.
Both the services were introduced with much fanfare by Forstall, who had supervised their development as senior vice president of¬†iOS¬†software.
The executive changes hand over substantially more responsibility to Eddy Cue, the head of Internet Software and Services who helped create the iTunes music store and¬†App Store. The 23-year¬†Apple¬†veteran already is in charge of Cloud services and will take on¬†Apple¬†Maps and¬†Siri. Craig Federighi will oversee¬†Apple's mobile¬†iOSsoftware as well as its OS X Mac software,¬†Apple¬†said.
Putting the mobile and personal computer software teams under the same manager could improve operations within the company, particularly as the capabilities and features of¬†smartphones¬†and PCs increasingly converge, said analysts.
Another executive who will get extra responsibility under the shake-up is¬†Jonathan Ive,¬†Apple's head of industrial design, who has played a key role in¬†Apple's success by imbuing its gadgets with a distinct look and feel.
That magic touch could help reinvigorate the look of¬†Apple's software, which has been criticized by some technology observers, Gillis said.
Shares of¬†Apple, the world's largest publicly traded company by market value, have declined 14 percent in the past month since reaching a 52-week high of $705.07 in September.
Browett, former CEO of British electronics retailer Dixons, took over as senior vice president of¬†Apple's retail stores earlier this year, replacing Ron Johnson, who went on to become the CEO of JCPenney.
"I think ultimately they probably discovered that his experience with Dixons didn't translate that well to the¬†Applestores and he just probably wasn't the right fit," Bajarin of¬†Creative Strategies¬†said.
Last week¬†Apple¬†delivered a second straight quarter of disappointing financial results, and¬†iPad¬†sales fell short of Wall Street's targets, marring its record of consistently blowing past investors' expectations.