Apple’s Bob Mansfield wasn’t the only one who didn’t see eye-to-eye with Scott Forstall. According to Bloomberg, Jony Ive, who is responsible for designing the company’s iconic iPhone, rarely met with Forstall, and in fact didn’t even include the iOS architect in regular input meetings. “Ive and Forstall were rarely in the same room,” one anonymous Apple source said.
Now that Forstall is gone, Ive will assume a new role where he will oversee Apple’s overarching design vision along with a group called Human Interface. With Ive’s increased responsibility and presence, he’s now free to stamp his signature minimalist aesthetic on both iOS and OS X, which are currently both slathered in Forstall’s skeumorphist designs.
Forstall was reportedly a divisive figure in the Apple ranks, and frequently clashed with top executives while blocking other teams’ ideas. This, Bloomberg said, threatened Apple’s ability to keep producing the kinds of electronics that made it the most valuable company. Ive, on the other hand, is a much more empathetic leader, and often credits team members while downplaying his own achievements.
“Jonathan understands that design is a collaborative process,” said William Parkhurst, a former Microsoft designer. “A design manager would not try to exert his influence too much, because they know the goodness that comes out of collaboration.”
Ultimately, by cutting Forstall loose, CEO Tim Cook is attempting to develop a more collaborative environment by promoting Ive, who will hopefully push the envelope of iOS and OS X capabilities. But it won’t be easy. After all, Forstall’s departure does leave a huge hole to plug up, as he was an early advocate for iOS, and oversaw a team that “is among the largest and most prolific at Apple,” Bloomberg said.
The next chapter in Apple history will be very interesting indeed. Ive has more than proven his skill for engineering premium products, but he has a much bigger challenge now that he has control over both hardware and software. We may see a completely revamped iOS (and maybe even OS X) when the company gets around to announcing an update next year.