Crisis Management

Strange News from Apple

31 Oct , 2012  

This week Apple, one of the world’s strongest brands, announced some major staffing moves. Several key executives are leaving the company including the head of the mobile software, Scott Forstall.

According to The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and other publications, one of the reasons that Forstall is leaving is that he would not apologize for Apple’s flawed mapping software. In an article today, for example, The Wall Street Journal notes, “…Mr. Forstall refused to sign a public apology over Apple’s mobile maps. It was a factor that shaped his exit….”

As Taylor Swift might say: what?

This is a bizarre statement. How many executives can you think of who have left companies because they refused to sign a public apology?

What does it mean?

Apple did issue an apology about the maps snafu; CEO Tim Cook noted that it was a problem and they were working to fix it. Given the high-profile problem, it was logical that the apology came from Cook.

But Forstall apparently wouldn’t sign it. This means….

I have no idea.

Why would Forstall sign it? Would you expect a more junior person to sign something when the CEO issued it?

Practically speaking, nobody actually signs anything anymore, so how do you not sign it?

It might be that Forstall didn’t think an apology was necessary and threatened to leave if the company issued one. This is a possible explanation, though I’m not sure why he would be so opposed to it.

It might be Forstall didn’t think there actually were problems, though this is less likely since the software apparently has clear issues.

It might be that Forstall lost a battle over the product so it launched over his protests and he now claims no ownership of the problems and is denying responsibility.

About the only thing that is clear is that there is far more to this story than we know and there are some very strange things happening at Apple.

2 Responses

  1. Y. Shaban says:

    Forstall seemed to have always wanted the CEO position at Apple, after Jobs, of course. He didn’t get it and ever since Jobs passed away, there has been tension in the executive ranks at Apple. The executive team was used to being led by a “legendary” leader. Cook simply doesn’t have the aura that Jobs had, at least not yet.

    Forstall sold 95% of his Apple stock back in May, somewhat signaling a departure (but then he had plenty of stock option grants as well). Given that info, this was probably simply a way for Cook to show who’s boss…now that he had a reason to be able to oust such a high-profile exec (the maps failure).

    This may even be better for Apple in the long-term. You don’t want rivalry in the executive ranks with people not following orders, doing their own thing, etc….”one bad apple spoils the bunch.” (pun intended).

  2. Joan Crownover says:

    It’s called hubris.

Leave a Reply


Conversation Across the Site

  • timcalkins { Danielle---Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I wonder what is the most compelling benefit for Airbnb to communicate. For me, I was looking for an interesting... } – Making Sense of Airbnb’s New Campaign
  • Cesare { Funny enough, in my view the point of the event is not just 'introduce people to the brand', but give you a sneak peek that... } – How Porsche Builds Its Brand
  • Danielle Wipperfurth { Professor, thank you for this thoughtful post. I agree with you that lesser known brands and products need to first educate customers before using aspirational... } – Making Sense of Airbnb’s New Campaign
  • Chorn { I would ask a question. Why do you so wholeheartedly defend Houlihan's in this? Fake service dogs are a real issue and they endanger those... } – Houlihan's Recovers from a Brand Stumble
  • Eric { It's all about experience, just like Apple, but in a even more luxury way. } – How Porsche Builds Its Brand
  • Eduardo Oliveira { I live in Brazil, where the govt is "active" on regulating almost everything and increases taxes like no other govt. The result - and current... } – A Marketer Looks at Capitalism
  • Read more Comments »

Collaborate with Tim

Tim helps companies around the world build great brands. To schedule a program or event click here. To learn more about Tim’s books, click here.