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Imagine Oompa-Loompas Taking Charge.

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Last week I read this Businessweek article about Scott Forstall, Senior VP of iOS software at Apple.

It’s clear Businessweek want a new ‘taskmaster’ at Apple. I think as we move forward in this Post-Jobs era, the media in general will look for one, more so than Apple will. (1)

The problem is there might not be one after Jobs but the businessweek article thinks it’s found one. I think the article is flawed from the beginning but it’s further questionable, when named and unnamed sources who use to work at Apple or around Forstall, take a slightly negative tone towards promoting him as a microcosm of Steve Jobs. The title doesn’t help with it’s use of the word ‘sorcerer’ instead of ‘wizard’.

The character analysis draws parallels to historic events in Apple’s history; Forstall is depicted as a political player and as somebody who creates friction between development teams, just like Jobs in his youth. It’s important to note, nobody still working at Apple or anybody who admires Forstall beyond mutual respect, has commentated on the story.

The political narrative; describing the tale of the iPhone’s creation, is tripped up with Tony Fadell’s statement, (an endnote added after the article was actually first published) the supposed opponent of Forstall’s in the article. Fadell contradicts what happened; attempting to set the record straight. I’m surprised the article still exists; there are two versions of the story, of course the truth lies somewhere in-between. The same goes for Businessweek’s writeup about Forstall, it sounds too convenient to be entirely true. I’m just wary of what is being conjured here again, in front of Apple. John Gruber has his own writeup here.

What I want to emphasise is the mis-presentation of Forstall as Steve Jobs’ successor. The media want their narratives to work on a personal level, their figurehead; for Forstall to become our new lens on Apple and who better than a supposed prodigy?

Everything from Apple before the iPhone 4S event was personally, unrealistically attributed to Steve Jobs; there is a tendency to forget there was an excellent team behind him. Last week we saw that team, new formation, equally divided, presenting where they were strongest. (2) Nobody took over to become the media darling, there was nobody to build up (until this Businessweek piece), there wasn’t a way to have a singular narrative attached to what Apple showcased. Actually, there were a few articles after the announcement but they were still related to Jobs.

I hope Apple continue to present themselves as a team; that’s a more accurate lens with which to view Apple, just as we witnessed at the iPhone 4S event. Forstall wasn’t any visible than normal. Naturally the event felt different without Jobs but I was glad there was less ‘distortion’, more ‘reality’ with Apple’s keynote. This probably explains why there was a negative reaction by the media after the event; the media needed their showman, a polarising figure, a magician and of course the magic wand that would have been a redesigned iPhone.

The next event will be interesting, another team presentation would certainly skew the typical Apple narrative, there won’t be anything to attribute to one person. The only fair recourse would be to stop with the constant speculation and concentrate on the products or talk up the team.

The Willy Wonka Candy Company is still going to be faithful to its heritage when you have a crack team of Oompa-Loompas, trusted to run everything in Wonka’s absence. What’s important, is to write about the chocolate and how amazing it still tastes, not hyping up chocolate aficionados with who is going to be the new cheerleader, when the Oompa-Loompas don’t give a shit.


(1) Is there a suggestion that Tim Cook isn’t capable? His quiet, cool demeanour might not be good for headlines. A lot of commentators see Tim Cook as solely an operations guy, that’s a slightly negative implication after following on from Jobs but how many ‘operation guys’ do you know, running around with a B.S. degree in industrial engineering?

(2) Have you noticed Jonathan Ive only does the product videos, he never presents on stage?

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Written by jonathanjk

October 23, 2011 at 16:33

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