In a significant restructuring of top-tier management, Apple yesterday announced that Senior Vice President of iOS Software, Scott Forstall, and Senior Vice President of Retail, John Browett would be leaving the company. Forstall originally started with Apple directly when it purchased NeXT in 1997, and Browett was there for a less-than-glamorous tender of less than six months. The implications of these guys leaving are, particularly in Forstall’s case, obviously huge.
The biggest impacts will come as new division heads move into place. Eddy Cue is now in charge of Siri and Maps, two areas of iOS which are essentially in beta at the moment, and will require a significant amount of work in order to bring them up to the standards that are normally associated with Apple products. In addition, Craig Federighi is now head of iOS development and will likely seek to put his own stamp on the flagship mobile software. Bob Mansfield, who earlier in the year was looking to retire, is staying with the company for another two years to lead the Technologies group, responsible for all wireless teams in Apple.
Perhaps the biggest change that could affect the end user of Apple products is the fact that Jony Ive will now take over the directorship for Human Interface teams in Apple, as well as retaining his position as Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. The man responsible for designing some of the most significant and recognizable consumer electronic devices in the past decade will now have a degree of control over how people interact with those devices at a software level, which could translate to some substantial changes to the core OS design in upcoming versions of iOS and OS X.
Smaller changes could mean that we will likely see the removal of most, if not all, skeuomorphic design traits in Apple software, an area over which Forstall and Ive famously did not see eye to eye. What this could translate to, is interfaces that look less like a faux stitched leather book over to more modern designs that are clean, sharp and consistent with the technology they represent.