Forstall, Browett to leave Apple; Mansfield takes on new Technologies group

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While Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast on Monday, a hurricane of personnel changes blew through Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall will be leaving the company, Bob Mansfield’s post-retirement job at Apple officially has a name, and Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi are all getting new responsibilities.

First, the good news: Eddy Cue, currently the senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, gets two new big projects on his plate in the form of Siri and Maps—formerly Forstall’s domain. Siri first launched in 2011, and the voice-controlled personal assistant feature has been a popular part of Apple’s iOS, though even top executives at the company have acknowledged Siri’s flaws. Maps, newly rebuilt by Apple for iOS 6, has come under fire for incomplete and incorrect data.

Cue has become Apple’s version of Mr. Fix-It over the years. After Apple’s disastrous MobileMe launch in 2008, then-CEO Steve Jobs put Cue in charge of Apple’s cloud-based services. Cue was also tapped to oversee Apple’s iAd mobile advertising venture last year, when CEO Tim Cook named him to his senior vice president post. With Monday’s additions, Cue now oversees all of Apple’s Internet-related services.

In other changes at One Infinite Loop, Jony Ive will take up the lead on Apple’s human interface design, while Craig Federighi is absorbing the remainder of Forstall’s duties as the new head of iOS in addition to his current job as the lead on OS X.

Having Federighi oversee both iOS and OS X gibes with recent moves by Apple to bring greater integration between its desktop and mobile operating systems. Recent updates to both OSes have seen the two incorporate each other’s features.

For Bob Mansfield, meanwhile, true retirement was short—though the Apple executive announced his intentions in June, Apple let it be known in August that he would stay on to work on future products. According to Monday’s press release, those products may include semiconductors: Mansfield is heading up Apple’s new Technologies group, which pulls together all of the company’s wireless teams along with its semiconductor projects.

Much of the management restructuring comes as a result of the departure of Scott Forstall, Apple’s senior vice president of iOS software. Though Forstall has for several years been a divisive figure within Apple—a profile by BloombergBusinessweek painted him as “polarizing”—it’s possible that his exit comes as a result of recent issues with Apple’s Maps redesign. The application’s shift off Google Maps and resulting patchwork content provoked major criticism on the feature’s primetime viability; though having users report problems has helped improve Maps’s dataset, the app still has a long way to go, leading many to blame Forstall for not properly setting expectations.

Forstall won’t officially depart the company until 2013; in the meantime, he’ll serve as an advisor to Tim Cook.

That’s not so for Apple’s other outgoing executive, John Browett: The former senior vice president of retail is just listed as “leaving” in Apple’s press release, with the Retail division now reporting directly to Tim Cook until a replacement can be found. Browett’s departure comes as little surprise, given public criticism for some of the changes he looked to make at Apple retail stores; this would have been his tenth month working for the company.

In a email reported from Cook to Apple employees posted on 9to5Mac, Apple’s CEO thanked Forstall for all of his “many accomplishments.” Cook also told employees in the email that Mansfield will remain at Apple for two years.

Apple’s senior leadership page has yet to be updated in light of the management changes.

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