Scott Forstall's Personality, Origins of iOS, and Lost iPhone 4 Prototype

Businessweek has an in-depth look at Apple's Senior Vice President of iOS Software, Scott Forstall. Readers will be familiar with Forstall from his keynote appearances where he often demonstrates the latest iOS features.

The Businessweek article is a not always flattering look at the man who has been partly responsible for much of Apple's success with the iPhone. Forstall is described as almost as a "mini-Steve" being a detail oriented manager but also one that is difficult to work with.

In fact, the article suggests that Forstall was a major factor in Tony Fadell's departure from Apple in early 2010. Fadell had been called the "Godfather" of the iPod due to his key role in that device's creation.

Forstall and Fadell reportedly went head to head in 2005 when Steve Jobs pitted the two against each other in determining the underlying operating system for the iPhone. The two possibilities were a Linux-based operating system or a Mac OS X based one.

In other words, should he shrink the Mac, which would be an epic feat of engineering, or enlarge the iPod? Jobs preferred the former option, since he would then have a mobile operating system he could customize for the many gizmos then on Apple’s drawing board. Rather than pick an approach right away, however, Jobs pitted the teams against each other in a bake-off.

Forstall, of course, led the shrunken down Mac OS X project and ultimately won, but the bad blood over time was said to be a factor in Fadell's decision to leave.

The profile also reports that Forstall may also been an indirect cause of the lost iPhone 4 prototype in 2010. Forstall reportedly convinced Jobs to allow dozens of his engineers to carry prototypes of the then unreleased iPhone 4. It was one of those employees who lost the iPhone 4 at a Redwood City, California bar where it was picked up and sold to Gizmodo.

Forstall had originally joined NeXT, Inc. after college and came to Apple with Steve Jobs after Apple's acquisition of NeXT in 1996. The NeXT operating system then became the basis for Mac OS X and ultimately the iPhone.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
114 months ago


The Businessweek article is a not always flattering look at the man who has been partly responsible for much of Apple's success with the iPhone. Forstall is described as almost as a "mini-Steve" being a detail oriented manager but also one that is difficult to work with.

Newsflash- this is what it takes to get **** done and strive for excellence. I love how people naively think that Apple could have become what it is today, and can stay that way, with chilled-out push-overs and mellow dudes leading it. You can criticize what you see as personality flaws from the comforts of your position on a messageboards, as everyone did with SJ, but at least have the common sense to realize this is what is required to make it, especially in an industry as cut throat as this one. SJ got Apple to where it is precisely by having insanely high standards, exacting requirements, and contro-freak (I hate that term) who micro-manages even the tiniest details. And yes, that naturally produces someone who is difficult to work with. But it's a sacrifice that produces results. I know, as I've worked in high pressure environments. I truly hope Forstall IS like Jobs, as are others in the company, cause that's what Apple needs. People who fight tooth and nail for their vision if they believe it's the right one. That's what Steve did- he did it everyday.

Forstall made absolutely the right call. And out of all the public figures at Apple, I like him the best. Seems to be the most Steve-like in his charisma, energy, passion, and onstage presence. Not Steve by a long shot, obviously. I just hope there is a single person at Apple with a vision to lead everyone else by, because decisions by committee will never work. Someone able to play hardball with content providers, as SJ did with iTunes, iPhone, etc. Damn, now I'm getting depressed again.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
I actually think he delivers best keynotes after steve jobs
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
Honestly I've always been happier to see Forstall present something rather than Phil or Tim. He seems more lively and entertaining. Mini-Steve? We shall see :)
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
Potential successor to Tim Cook?

Having met Scott at WWDC in 2009, I was certainly impressed with him personally. That was already based upon his public work as well.

This article certainly reaffirms for me that Apple is in quite good hands.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
Forstall is a badass.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
114 months ago
As a former colleague of Scotts, Fadell didn't stand a chance.

The first mistake was suggesting Linux.

The second mistake by Fadell thinking Scott whose knowledge of OS X [NeXTStep/Openstep] would be weak against his own. The guy's technical skills were dwarfed by Scott's own.

Hint: Scott has a Masters in CS from Stanford in areas of Symbolic Systems and also areas of AI. Calling Siri. Scott's been wanting to apply that in several areas for a long time. Prototypes of his work goes back to NeXT.

Other than Peter Grafanino, Ali Ozer, Dean Reece, and other geniuses I had the pleasure to make friends, this guy didn't stand a chance.

You have to earn Scott's respect. I got along with him once he knew where I stood and I always knew where he stood. He's a very personable guy away from his work.

He's extremely focused, driven and like most at NeXT everyone of our positions required us to do the work of several people. You didn't have to go far to get an answer to a technical question around NeXT. And once you knew it you added to your own.

I see it as it was a test Steve set up to see if Scott was ready to take the next step and become a Senior VP.

It's no contest here.

Scott had 10 years of sparring with Avie Tevanian, Steve, Grafanino, Ozer Jeff Martin and so many other great devs and colleagues. He was always going to become the position he now holds.

I expected no less.

P.S. During the merger we used mklinux to get Openstep ported onto PowerPC 603 and newer system during the Rhapsody project.

There was never any serious interest in Linux to be part of Apple's ecosystem.

And yes, Steve was never going to not have control over the OS.

In a similar vein, Linus is Linux's dictator.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

iPhone Users Who Experienced 'Batterygate' Can Now File to Receive Around $25 Settlement From Apple

Monday July 13, 2020 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models. Now, eligible iPhone owners are beginning to be notified about their legal rights and options. Under the proposed settlement, Apple will provide a cash payment of approximately $25 to each eligible iPhone owner who submits a claim, with its total payout ...

Possible 'iPhone 12' Battery Certifications Suggest Lower Capacities Than iPhone 11 Series

Monday July 13, 2020 4:22 am PDT by
MySmartPrice has spotted certifications for three new Apple batteries that it believes could be for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, despite them being less capacitive than the batteries in the current iPhone 11 series. The batteries are identified with the model numbers A2471, A2431, and A2466, and appear on Safety Korea, China's 3C, and the Danish agency UL Demko. Apple is expected to...

Google to 'Dramatically' Improve Chrome Impact on Mac Battery Life

Sunday July 12, 2020 1:56 pm PDT by
Google will address long-standing battery life issues, particularly on Mac devices, reports The Wall Street Journal. Chrome will improve "tab throttling" by better prioritizing active tabs and limiting resource drain from tabs open in the background. This is said to have a "dramatic impact on battery and performance." Google has reportedly been performing early tests on Mac laptops in...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

Apple Pays Samsung an Estimated $950 Million for Missing OLED Panel Purchase Targets

Monday July 13, 2020 10:03 am PDT by
Apple in the second quarter of 2020 paid Samsung approximately $950 million for not meeting OLED panel purchase goals established in agreements between the two companies, according to display analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants. Samsung last week shared guidance on revenue and operating profit for the second quarter of 2020, which included a one-time gain related to its display...

Apple Shares Humorous 'Working-From-Home Thing' Video

Monday July 13, 2020 9:31 am PDT by
Apple today shared a funny video focused on the problems that people working from home have to deal with, including noisy children, chaotic schedules, communication issues, and more. The video focuses on showing off Apple products and their capabilities that can be useful when working from home, such as the ability to scan a document with an iPhone, mark up a PDF, Siri Reminders, and more.The...

SoftBank Considering Possible Sale of Arm Holdings as Apple Gears Up for Arm-Based Macs

Monday July 13, 2020 2:00 pm PDT by
SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that include a full or partial sale or a public offering, reports The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank is working with Goldman Sachs Group as an advisor, and the explorations are at an early stage. The Wall Street Journal says that it's unknown how much interest there would be in Arm from financial or industry...

Rumor Suggests New Apple App for Windows Could Be Coming Soon

Tuesday July 14, 2020 1:54 am PDT by
Apple could be working towards the release of a new app for Windows 10, according to a report this week from an Italian website. The blog Aggiornamenti Lumia suggests that an app from Apple is "coming soon" to the Microsoft Store, but stops short of providing additional details. Apple still maintains a Windows version of the iTunes app, which has been discontinued on Mac and replaced by...

Deals: Amazon Taking $400 Off 16-Inch MacBook Pro, Starting at New Low Price of $1,999.99 for 512GB

Monday July 13, 2020 5:34 am PDT by
Amazon has introduced a new low price on Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro today, including both 512GB and 1TB models. Starting with the 512GB model (2.6GHz 6-Core, 16GB RAM), you can get this notebook for $1,999.99, down from $2,399.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....