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Some employees have already quit after hearing one too many "Steve wouldn't like that" from iOS SVP

In the gaping leadership hole left by the death of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) co-founder and driving force Steven P. Jobs, there's significant questions about who will step up and be the most "Jobsian".  

I. The Disciple Has Borrowed Much From His Former Master

While Apple appointed Tim Cook to succede Mr. Jobs at the CEO spot, the quiet mild-mannered businessman seems an odd cog to replace flashy, obsessive, dictatorial, performance-driven former chief.  But Apple's long-time marketing chief Phil Schiller and the head of internet services Eddy Cue don't feel like a much better fit.

Some are arguing that the iOS chief -- Scott Forstall -- is the most "Jobsian" and thus may be destined to one day lead the company.  At the iPhone 4S unveil, Mr. Forstall, an Apple Senior Vice President, dropped into hyperbole and flashy presentations of the iPhone features that reminded many -- according to Bloomberg Business Week -- of Mr. jobs.

Scott Forstall
Scott Forstall, iOS SVP [Source: Fast Company]

The similarities are no coincidence.  Reportedly Mr. Forstall -- 42 and the youngest Apple SVP -- was taken under the wing of Mr. Jobs, who served as his mentor.  Andy Miller former head of Apple's iAd group describes Mr. Forstall's close relationship commenting, "He was as close to Steve as anybody at the company.  When he says stuff, people listen."

At conferences he mirrors Mr. Jobs' fashion choices, wearing black shoes, jeans, and a black zippered sweater.  On the go he drives a Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, in silver -- the same car Mr. Jobs did.

II. A Ruthless, Yet Admired Leader

Like Mr. Jobs, Mr. Forstall has installed his name on numerous Apple patents -- 50 to be precise -- many of which Apple's competitors complain lift technology published in peer-reviewed literature ten years or more before the application.  But in adapting to the lust for litigation Steve Jobs acquired [1][2][3][4][5][6][7] in his later years, he's poised to continue Apple's strategy of using lawsuits as a tool against the mobile market's top players.

And he's also continuing some of Mr. Jobs other controversial habits, such as ruthlessly driving employees to perform and obsessing over every detail.  In fact his favorite refrain is reportedly "Steve wouldn't like that" -- a phrase of used by Mr. Forstall to evoke shame in his underlings.  And like his mentor Mr. Forstall is reportedly inspiring a high burnout rate, driving away Apple engineers to competitors.
Steve Jobs RIP
iOS Chief Scot Forstall evokes Steve Jobs name to shame his employees into submission.  He evokes strong reactions -- much like Mr. Jobs -- at Apple.  Some love him.  Others hate him. [Source: Apple]

Former Apple software engineer Mike Lee remarks, "I once referred to Scott as Apple’s chief a–hole.  And I didn’t mean it as a criticism. I meant it as a compliment. You could say the same thing about Steve Jobs."

But in performance it's hard to argue with Mr. Forstall.  He's engineered the world's second most used smartphone platform and the tablet used by more people around the world than another manufacturer or OS maker.  And he's reportedly inspired his i-device staff to virtually live at Apple, skipping social events, and becoming fanatically devoted to the unit's products.

That latter accomplishment reminds many of Steve Jobs in the 1980s who led the Mac group which had an "us-versus-the-rest-of-Apple mentality".  Wil Shipley, an independent software developer who works on site at Apple recalls, "Every iPhone engineer and iOS engineer I know at Apple has some of that.  They will tease me that iOS is crushing Mac in sales."

In high school Mr. Forstall played the lead in his school's rendition of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd, reciting the harsh line, "There are two kinds of men, and only two.  There's the one staying put in his proper place and one with his foot in the other one's face."

Now he lives by that line.

III. From Stanford to the King of iOS

Graduating from Stanford University, Mr. Forstall quickly assumed a leadership role, designing the "Aqua" Mac interface, which Steve Jobs once remarked made "you [want] to lick it".  And he led the design of Leopard, another big computer success story for Apple.

In 2005 Mr. Jobs put his top staffers to the task of designing a mobile operating system for a phone.  The iPod team was in charge of one design.  They picked a customizable, Linux-based OS.  Forstall's Mac team was in charge of the other design.  He designed a closed-source Unix-like OS with cold exacting design and little customization.

Scott Forstall and Steve Jobs
Scott Forstall (left) may be Mr. Jobs' (center) most dedicated disciple.  Indeed he shares the late leader's penchant for theatrics, unrelenting performance demands, and a belief in closed systems. [Source: David Paul Morris/Getty Images]

Mr. Jobs reportedly expected the Linux team to triumph, but to his surprise it was Forstall who delivered the device with the best battery life and interface.  So instead of making Android, before Android, Apple made iOS.

But Mr. Forstall, like Mr. Jobs did show selective flexibility when necessary.  After disallowing third party applications on the first iPhone, he embraced them in the second generation.  The result was the App Store -- an application market that smart phone leader Google Inc. (GOOG) has still been unable to surpass in pure app volume, despite holding nearly twice Apple's market share.

Looking ahead, everyone's question is where Apple will go without Mr. Jobs.  With Tim Cook, Apple might end up looking more like a more demure, yet successful tech leader like Microsoft or Dell.  With Forstall eventually taking command, though, Apple reportedly might look a lot like it would have had cancer not claimed the life of Mr. Jobs -- ruthless, stylish, flashy, polished, and ever hungry.

Source: Bloomberg

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It sounds to me like...
By NicodemusMM on 10/13/2011 9:06:05 PM , Rating: 4
they want to replace a completely unique individual with a common tool. If the SVP was "Jobsian" while being himself that's one thing. Sounds like this guy wasn't as much mentored by Jobs as cloned from him.

RE: It sounds to me like...
By bupkus on 10/14/2011 1:40:25 AM , Rating: 4
Enter the clowns.

Cloned would provide a more accurate duplicate. This guy is more cookie cutter... a counterfeit, a fraud, a sheeple in wolf's clothing.

RE: It sounds to me like...
By Tony Swash on 10/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: It sounds to me like...
By bah12 on 10/14/2011 9:25:30 AM , Rating: 5
And he's reportedly inspired his i-device staff to virtually live at Apple, skipping social events, and becoming fanatically devoted to the unit's products.
...manages a work load and team 100 times bigger...
Yah all that "hard" work, and all those missed social events to take a whole year to do what exacty? Oh yah the uber hard task of putting in the faster chip they already had, ban a software app that worked fine on older models so the App-holes in sales could call it a "feature".

Pardon me if I'm not impressed with what the team "accomplished" in a year of work. A monkey with a pencil could figure out that using the faster chip would be better. So really the only "innovative" thought in the 4S was the decision to screw over their existing user base and ban Siri from older phones, just so they had something to market other than speed.

RE: It sounds to me like...
By Tony Swash on 10/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: It sounds to me like...
By bah12 on 10/14/2011 11:09:00 AM , Rating: 3
I suppose it comes from not having much experience of really doing stuff of consequence in the real world..
It's because of my experience that I can recognize an ass kissing poser when I see one. Same car and same clothes that's just creepy, but hey Apple's empire is built on creating idols. Steve knew belief in an idea would bring quite a price premium, regardless of the inferiority of the idol he had created.

There is a differenct between learning form a mentor, and riding a coat tail. "Steve wouldn't like that"...really... days after his passing. How lame of a supervisor are you that you have to pull the dead "legend" card just to get your people motivated. Personally I find it highly disrespectful of Steve, and I didn't care for Jobs all that much.
Scott Forstall who is in charge of iOS not iPhone hardware.
My mistake the article said
And he's reportedly inspired his i-device staff ...
I had assumed by i-device they meant hardware, but looks like you are correct he is only in charge of iOS. So we can take the credit for the speed bump out of his hands, and all he is left with is the Siri debacle and improved notifications. Real accomplishment there for a team of people over 12 months.

RE: It sounds to me like...
By bah12 on 10/14/2011 11:22:54 AM , Rating: 5
Oh crap I'm arguing apple topics with Tony...wth am I thinking. It's like arguing evolution with the Pope.

I've fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Fanboy when logic is on the line!"

RE: It sounds to me like...
By sprockkets on 10/14/2011 3:31:32 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the pope believe in evolution though? haha

RE: It sounds to me like...
By bupkus on 10/15/2011 3:58:23 PM , Rating: 2
A cookie cutter who apparently earns 100 times what you will ever earn
And how rich was Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk, Michael Faraday...
Here, let me go easy on myself.

And for Tony Swash...

I've met people like you before, Tony. You are in no way unique.
You measure success by dollars not by one's humanity. Your values are a betrayal of yourself. You no doubt have no self respect unless you too are an icon of enterprise and rich as the people you idolize.
Being rich was never my life's goal. I fair and just world-- much more important to me.

Work ethic? Tell me, Tony. For someone who admires workloads, you spend in inordinate amount of time posting your self deprecating descriptions.

Lastly, stay out of the dictionary business; it's already been done.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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