Many people have made themselves look foolish by taking a sceptical line on Apple over the past five years, but the time has come for me to make that call. The problem isn’t the products—which still look great to me—but the people. I’m bearish on Apple due to the firing of Scott Forstall, the senior vice president in charge of iOS. It’s not that I hold any particular affection for Forstall personally or even take his side in the great skeuomorphism controversy that’s been roiling Apple circles for a while now. But a company doesn’t normally lose a key player for no reason, and Forstall’s baby—the operating system that runs iPhones and iPads—is what made the company what it is today.
Before iOS, Steve Jobs had already returned and “saved” the company from oblivion. But that simply meant restoring it to what it had been before the disaster: a medium-sized, profitable, niche consumer electronics company known for its elegant industrial design and hampered by a paucity of available software. It was iOS that turned Apple into a juggernaut. For the person who shepherded the company’s biggest success to get sacked is a big deal. And the reasoning behind it—persistent personality clashes with other key executives—is a troubling sign that with Jobs gone, the company may not be able to hold together the kind of all-star team it needs to keep innovating and succeeding.
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