Scott Forstall, The Polarising Genius Behind iOS

Scott Forstall, The Polarising Genius Behind iOS

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]

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