Here's how some leading Apple watchers told the story overnight:
Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster: Apple Consolidates Management Around Core Players. "Yesterday Apple announced top level management changes, most notably Scott Forstall head of iOS will be leaving Apple in a year, with his responsibilities moving under Jon Ive (taking over human interface) and Eddie Cue (taking over Siri and Maps). While things can always change, we believe that yesterday's announcement all but confirmed that Ive will be with the Company for the foreseeable future, putting to rest a recurring investor concern of an Apple without Ive. This, combined with Tim Cook's nine years remaining on his contract with Apple, suggests the two most critical management figures will be in place for the longer term."
Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu: Tim Cook making his mark. "We would like to note that this isn't the first time that senior executives have departed the company. Some we think of include Fred Anderson, Jon Rubenstein, Tony Fadell, Avi Tevanian, and Bertrend Setlet and the company has arguably not missed a beat. We believe this is a testament to AAPL's strong culture that continues to endure despite changes in personnel through the years."
gdgt's Ryan Block: Scott Forstall is out at Apple: why, and what it means. "Most people don't know who Scott Forstall is. But to those who do, he's something of a demigod. If the future of mobile is software, and Apple is the company in pole position, then Forstall, Senior VP of iOS, is arguably the guy driving and defining the future. And as of today, he's officially out at Apple. But don't panic, this is actually probably going to be a very good thing. Here's why: After Steve's death, Forstall was known to be consolidating power among the ranks at Apple.¹ This kind of thing never bodes well -- for anyone. Blatant power grabs lead to infighting and dysfunction as senior management all of a sudden have to start watching their backs instead of collaborating on product and direction. It's simply never healthy, and definitely never sustainable. Something has to give, and it looks like we know what."
The Wall Street Journal's Jessica Lessin: An Apple Exit Over Maps. "Apple Inc. executive Scott Forstall was asked to leave the company after he refused to sign his name to a letter apologizing for shortcomings in Apple's new mapping service, according to people familiar with the matter. The incident was the latest clash between Mr. Forstall, who oversaw Apple's mobile software unit, and other executives at the company. It led to one of the most significant management shake-ups in Apple's recent history and its most sweeping changes under Chief Executive Tim Cook."
Daring Fireball's John Gruber: Forstall Out; Ive Up. "Forstall is not walking away; he was pushed. Potential factors that worked against Forstall: his design taste, engineering management, abrasive style, and the whole iOS 6 Maps thing. I also wonder how much Forstall was effectively protected by his close relationship with Steve Jobs — protection which, obviously, no longer exists. Say this for Forstall, though: he’s been in charge of iOS from its inception, and my understanding is that he, along with Bertrand Serlet, were the leading proponents of using OS X as the foundation of the iPhone (as opposed to something more like the embedded OS that runs iPods other than the Touch). No one is more excited than I am to see Jony Ive’s design taste spread to Apple’s software, but under Forstall’s leadership, iOS has been an unprecedented success... I don’t think it can be overstated just how big a deal it is that he now oversees all product design, hardware and software. For the last year, outside observers have been left to wonder just where the buck stopped for UI design at post-Jobs Apple. That question has now been answered: Jony Ive."
AllThingsD's John Paczkowski: Welcome to the Jony Ive Era at Apple. "While details of the ousters of Scott Forstall and John Browett — the guy who oversaw Apple’s iOS operating system and the new hire who ran its retail stores, are certainly intriguing — they’re a sideshow to the bigger story here: The clear ascendancy of design chief Jony Ive. That’s because on Monday, Ive was given a role that no executive other than co-founder Steve Jobs has ever held before — oversight of all Apple product design. The buck has finally stopped, with Cook trying to put an end to what had become internecine executive battles within Apple. While perhaps a good thing, it also puts a lot of pressure on the elegant Ive, who will now be the integrator of Apple’s two sides and the center of its future direction."
GigaOm's Om Malik: From Inside Apple: The Scott Forstall Fallout. "Forstall’s firing was met with a sense of quiet jubilation, especially among people who worked in the engineering groups. Or as one of my sources quipped: there are a lot of people going for celebratory drinks, even if there is a little bit of doubt about their roles in the future. While the now-rescinded resignation of Bob Mansfield was masterfully planned, my sources say that Forstall’s exit was fairly last minute and not something he initiated. Many within the iOS and OS X teams only heard about it minutes after the news went out. Engineers were caught off guard, a source told me. Many feel that Craig Federighi, who is taking over Forstall’s job in addition to overseeing the Mac OS X software business, is someone who needs to prove himself. He is not as decisive and divisive as Forstall."
New York Times Scott Wingfield and Nick Bilton: In Shake-Up, Apple’s Mobile Software and Retail Chiefs to Depart. "Mr. Forstall was a staunch believer in a type of user interface, skeuomorphic design, which tries to imitate artifacts and textures in real life. Most of Apple’s built-in applications for iOS use skeuomorphic design, including imitating thread of a leather binder in the Game Center application and a wooden bookshelf feel in the newsstand application. Mr. Jobs was also a proponent of skeuomorphic design; he had a leather texture added to apps that mimicked the seats on his private jet. Yet most other executives, specifically Mr. Ive, have always believed that these artifacts looked outdated and that user interface design on the computer had reached a point where skeuomorph was no longer necessary... According to two people who have worked with Apple to develop new third-party products for the iPhone, the relationship between Mr. Forstall and Mr. Ive had soured to a point that the two executives would not sit in the same meeting room together."
The Verge's Chris Ziegler: Apple's Scott Forstall's fatal mistake. "For his part, Forstall just cashed out over $38 million in Apple stock earlier this year, so his landing — after he completes his role serving "as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook" for the remainder of 2012, of course — will be a soft one."
Paris Lemon's MG Siegler: Too Many Cooks in Cook's Kitchen? "Seven (7!) paragraphs in, we get: “Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook.” This was clearly a mistake by Apple from the start. Good to see them rectify it so quickly... No mention of Phil Schiller. No need. He’s clearly number two in the food chain, I believe."
Fortune's Adam Lashinsky: Inside Apple's major shakeup. "A final word on Tim Cook. In only a year on the job he led Apple to new heights. He has pleased investors, listened to employees, mollified critics of the company's labor policies and overseen the introduction of products that have sold exceedingly well across the world. He even has shown humility by apologizing for the mapping snafu. One thing Cook has been unwilling to do, however, is explain himself. In his very few public utterances he has mouthed platitudes. Steve Jobs too played cat-and-mouse with the public, revealing what he wanted, when he wanted. But Steve Jobs earned his caginess. He got the benefit of the doubt after silencing the doubters. Cook isn't there yet. He needs a new strategy for communicating what is going on at Apple."
I Am Concise's Ryan Jones: Tweet. "$100 says this announcement was accelerated because the market was closed today. So smart."
As far as we're concerned, the handwriting was on the wall for both Forstall and Browett. See:
Here's how Apple's executive team looks after the shake up: