Scott Forstall, The Polarising Genius Behind iOS

Scott Forstall, The Polarising Genius Behind iOS
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Scott Forstall is the iOS boss at Apple who pops up at keynotes and in Apple’s shiny white-backgrounded videos to talk iOS features, but that belies his actual importance at the company. Businessweek has an in-depth profile on the gifted, relentless and polarising engineer.

Forstall was behind or involved in several key iPhone-related patents, and he’s likely the most important person at the company behind Tim Cook and Jon Ive. He’s also the closest approximation to Steve Jobs currently working at Apple:

In many ways, Forstall is a mini-Steve. He’s a hard-driving manager who obsesses over every detail. He has Jobs’s knack for translating technical, feature-set jargon into plain English.

But Apple’s youngest senior executive also shares another of Jobs’s traits: he’s a deeply polarising figure who inspires his employees to be loyal and hardworking, but also alienates many of his co-workers:

[He]routinely takes credit for collaborative successes, deflects blame for mistakes, and is maddeningly political. They say he has such a fraught relationship with other members of the executive team-including lead designer Jony Ive and Mac hardware chief Bob Mansfield-that they avoid meetings with him unless Tim Cook is present.

Aqua, OS X Leopard, the Mac-minded philosophy iOS and the App Store are all children of Forstall’s vision. But he’s also had to slog through a few screw ups, like convincing Jobs to allow dozens of prototypes of the iPhone 4 to leave the campus for field testing.

In many ways Forstall comes across as the Once and Future Apple — a reminder that the company is more than one man, it’s a philosophy both technical and industrial that its torchbearers can either work together to nurture, or watch flicker out due to corporate infighting and jealousy. [BusinessWeek]

Image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News