Scott Forstall, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice at Apple

“The deteriorating health of Steve Jobs loomed over Apple’s (AAPL) Oct. 4 press event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Apple wanted the day to be all about its new iPhone 4S, but the absence of the company’s charismatic co-founder was palpable. On the far right of the jam-packed theater’s front row was an empty chair, its back covered by a black cloth with “reserved” written in bright, white letters—possibly a subtle tribute to the ailing icon. Tim Cook, the company’s new chief executive officer, took the stage first to kick off the 90-minute show, but he spoke slowly and deliberately, and perhaps, in hindsight, with a touch of melancholy. He didn’t mention Jobs once. Neither did Phil Schiller, Apple’s longtime marketing chief, who pulled the curtain off the new iPhone, or Eddy Cue, head of Internet software and services, who rolled out a new Web storage system, iCloud. The executives knew the situation was grim. Jobs passed away at 3 p.m. the following day, kicking off a wave of reflection and adulation that continues even now,” Adam Satariano, Peter Burrows and Brad Stone report for Businessweek.

“The executive who summoned the most energy at the press conference was a boyish-looking senior vice-president named Scott Forstall, who reviewed the features of the new iPhone operating system,” Satariano, Burrows and Stone report. “Toward the end of the event he returned to the stage to introduce the device’s surreal digital assistant, Siri. ‘Who are you?’ he asked his iPhone. ‘I am a humble personal assistant,’ the device replied, bringing the biggest laugh of the otherwise low-key morning. Forstall then showed off his Jobsian knack for ungrammatical hyperbole. ‘That is absolutely blow-away,’ he said.”

Read much more in the full article – recommended – here.

65 Comments

  1. I still think Phil Schiller is better to do presentation that the rest of the people or at least better that Tim, but I did noted that Phil did say some funny jokes but he didn’t laugh.
    Remember a guy called Betrand Serly or something like that? He had a funny accent but also was a funny presenter.

    1. Yep, Phil is better for presentations to the media. Tim is good for the analysts. Scott is good for the developers. Bertrand, was funny, I thought he could make a good CEO, but he’s gone back to academia. Thanks, Bertrand!

    2. Phil Schiller jokes this last event during new iPad were virtually unnoticed by the audience. Example, “Tim – I will need to taking time off work to play this game.” HoHum. He stumbles a lot. His timing is odd. He is more passionate in voice then Tim yet Scott wins over all in my opinion.

      Scott presents almost effectively as Jobs did, his passionate enthusiastic delivery in presenting is smooth and clear yet more calculated less fluent then Jobs, nevertheless, far better then Tim and Phil. Still all are needed.

      1. Yep, passion is the key. Steve Jobs had an amazing knack of passionately drawing people into his sphere of wonderment. Scott has shown signs of this ability. Certainly not evident in Tim Cook or Phil Schiller. After watching the presentation I found myself missing and appreciating Steve Jobs even more.

        Charisma is not a marketable commodity…either you have it or you don’t.

        1. Steve had a discussion with you. He was like your favorite college professor who loved his subject so much that you loved it, too. He was like a friend, passionately describing his favorite hobby and sharing his delight with the newest developments. He was like Indiana Jones holding the Grail, Dr. Grant seeing a live Brachiosaurus for the first time, or astrophysicists in awe of the images from Hubble after the first servicing mission by Shuttle astronauts. SJ talking about new Apple products was like Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about science – captivating passion and magic.

          Next to SJ’s conversational style, all of the other Apple presenters seem stiff and rehearsed. They need to relax and enjoy the magic that Apple brings to the stage. Embrace it, bask in it, and share your love for it with the audience. Because passion is an important aspect of the Apple formula.

      2. Actually Phil said, “Tim, I’ll need a few weekends off to play…” at which point I thought, “A few weekends off? Holy workaholic batman. This guy works right through the weekends?”.

        Then I thought, “Of course he does.”

      3. Christine: it’s “than” not “then”. Has this never been corrected in your prose before now? Important to get it right in a post where you’re commenting on other people’s communication skills!

        1. Professor Phil,

          1) my name is Cristine
          2) I am not quoting the man but merely providing an example
          3) I am not suggestion Phil is a slacker but that his joke missed
          4) I am making a comment to Troy – disagreeing Phil is not the best
          5) stating all presenters are much needed and that Scott seems better
          6) “fluent THAN Jobs” – thanks professor – typo and poor grammar
          7) you could benefit from the help of a grammar-nazi with your posts also

          “Important to get it right, when commenting on communication skills of others.”

          I shall try to learn from my mistakes. I suggest you do the same.

        2. Oh and one more thing…
          my comment centres on the topic of the article; agreeing or disagreeing, for that is what commenting is about.

          Not being a proofreader or self professing scholar master of the english language. Enjoy your post PhilBabble.

            1. Not so ‘Eddbern’.

              I think Philbaby needs some upgrading to his own communicational inadequacies. Make a stand on the article rather then critics the grammar or spelling of another persons comment.

              If someone is going to point out my faults, better he/she make certain their ‘engrish’ is beyond perfect.

              “people’s” is that even a word? One should use person or peoples.

  2. I thought its was very odd that there was a no show for Scot……. he is the iOS guy, and imho the best ‘stage’ guy that apple have !! So what gives ??

      1. No. Tim is the right guy for CEO because he is the master logisticstitian. The importance of Apple’s logistics engineering Cabot be underestimated. Were it not for Tim, the whole titanic global ship of Apple would not work like the well oiled machine Tim has carefully developed. While I agree Tim is a clunky presenter, you gotta keep in mind he is probably the world’s greatest logistics engineer which is why Apple is able to continue its unprecidented growth into the foreseeable future. So cut him some presenting slack. It’s not his strength. But it doesn’t need to be. The guy is fundamentally an engineering genius and that is a very cool thing to be for a CEO at Apple now that Steve set it all up going in the right direction.

        1. Totally disagree. Tim lacks the ability to convey the companies passion. He might be the master logistics man and rightfully so – keep him as such but don’t allow a bean counter to drive the company. As CEO he is getting a ridiculous salary – no way this is not a man who cares like Steve nor has the right skills at presenting the state of the company as Scott. Mark my words, Tim is valuable but Apple will diminish due to Tim soon.

          Apples’ direction is obviously iOS – so place the one person who represents what the company is doing – thats not Tim.

          1. Absolute bullshit! Tim is the perfect guy to be leading the company. He is a brilliant leader who has a firm grasp on all aspects of the company. Yes Scott is a very good presenter, but that does not make him CEO material. His scope and experience are much more limited than Tim’s. Likewise, just because Tim is not a great presenter doesn’t mean he isn’t a great CEO.

            1. I agree he is a brilliant man at what he does, but not CEO. I agree to lead Apple since Jobs has passed – yes, but not for then next 3 years.

              Ask yourself what would make a great CEO? Tim?

              You think that a visionary-less man supreme at logistics driving mass purchases of component choices; saving the company 20 cents pre camera installed to every device is a Leader? Oh how uninspiring things will be for the next 3 years on with this type leadership? TIm is a brilliant leader you claim. You defence in what manner is?

              My defence is that Apple is all about iOS now. As Tim said 75% of Apples revenue is made on iOS devices.

              Is this due to Tim’s lead or Scotts presentations? Neither.
              Is this success due to the low cost to the consumers or the high profit margin Apple earns from saving components and deals with outsourcing and partnerships to assemble these devices? No.

              In a nutshell it is the success of the product itself from the people who love to use them. Specifically – It’s due to iOS itself.

              Why do we love these products? Because they are simple, dependable, secure, a joy to use, and the devices are new and different.

              Apple evokes this excitement. Call it hype or not; without a CEO hyped and excited truly about what he stands for then we the consumers and Apple Fanboys do not believe the enthusiasm from the CEO at Apple. Tim is not an inspiring leader and as much as he has talent and as much he really loves Apple; that message needs to be strong and clear.

              Tim carries on Steves’ spot but offers no vision, a lack of passion shared as a enthusiastic and inspiring person. Its as if he is following a recipe or reading a map. Doing what Steve planned out for him is the observation. I do not think this is good. And how many years has Jobs distilled the Kool-aid factor for future devices. Ten years of advance research. No way. Luckily 4 years worth. Tim is not a visionary simple as that. Nor is he capable at projecting his inner enthusiasm out to the public. And this is extremely important for Apple.

              I do not hate Tim, and do not look down fro his inabilities, and though the best man at Steve passing, step back and allow some who who can evoke the passion of Apple to its SJ years – excite – innovate – inspire – drive – push – and demand better.

            2. C#PO, I don’t think you could be more wrong. Apple had a young charismatic, arrogant CEO once, he crashed and burned. Like a Tom Cruise movie he rose from the ashes to ride again and find success. Someday, Scott will likely be the CEO, but he is not ready for that yet.

              Cook has been running the day to day at APple for a long time while Steve was sick. It is his savvy that has led to the supply chain & manufacturing acumen that allowed Apple to rise to the top.

              Apple is doing just fine.. (So is TIm)

            3. @ Truth,
              Your debate is weak.

              Yeah, Cook has been running Apple for some time.
              Yeah, I understand where Tim came from and think he is the best supply chain and manufacturing and logitics person in any company. But you believe for some reason that makes for a great leader.

              Running Apple is not the same as an iCon embodying leader that represents the soul of the company. A CEO should also lead with great charisma and inspiration and passion. Do you feel this listening to Tim Cook. I do not. I believe he loves Apple. I believe he like all at Apple work their butts off. I believe he is an amazing talent and superstar for Apple. But I do not believe he is this as CEO. Period.

              Who are you to say Scott is not ready yet – specially without reason other then Oh he’s not ready. Weak. Is Steve Ballmer ready? Is Michael Dell ready? Oh, they are already CEOs… Oh I guess you will say they are useless leaders right? I can tell you why they seem that way.. for the same reason Tim is not right. What do you need to do to be ready? And, yes, i understand Steve Jobs appointed Tim Cook but remember Steve Jobs also hired Mr. Pepsi also.

              I am not convinced TIm is right, even though Apple Stock continues to rise and yes, Apple is in good hands however, the products of years to come – who shall lead and innovate those? Tim – no I don’t see it.

          2. Totally disagree. While Tim isn’t up on stage doing cartwheels or the like, he is a good presenter and a great CEO. Sure not as great as Steve Jobs, but Steve Jobs saw something in him – enough that he thought he would be the best replacement. Not sure who you think you are, but if Tim was good enough for Steve, then he is good enough. I don’t have any doubts in his ability to lead Apple.

            1. No, it’s not about me Michael.
              Have i offend you with my comments?

              Good enough is a poor defence to the argument.

              Since when is “good enough” acceptable?
              That comment blows my mind; it’s so Anti-Apple.

              “Hey, Steve, I tried all I can and oh well it’s not perfect but it’s good enough”.
              Shame on you, you know where the door is… take care Mikey.
              With that thinking we see why you ain’t CEO.

              My statement was rather direct and well understood. To clarify to those who think this is about myself or strongly appose to my remark:

              I do not doubt Tim can lead but rather where his leadership takes Apple?

              And to support this stand, simply stated, Apple is more about iOS now then before.

              If iOS is the driving force now for Apple – then the one who is most passionate and coveys the most excitement and sells a believable inspiring direction – should be doing the keynote presentation. And the keynote in my opinion should be hosted by the CEO. Hence make Scott CEO – naturally.

              BEST SOLUTION:
              rotate each of these talented people, giving each of them a chance to shine as Keynote presenters. Once that happens then let’s talk again.

          3. Absolutely disagree with your statement C3PO, Tim is by far and away the best man to be CEO of .

            You saw Tim do an hours work in a presentation. The other work he does in the remaining 8,765 hours in the year are far more important and compelling than judging him on how he presents at a Keynote.

            As an aside, I think his presentation skills are excellent.

            1. It always amazes me how personal comments are taken.

              Okay i surrender RastaMouse. I accept your take on this. Yes, a very good point.
              The rest of the year that Tim is not presenting he is giving his 200%.

              I not not disagree that TIm is a hard devoted and talented man nor do I believe TIm Cook is not passionate about Apple. And yes Tim did do an excellent presentation.
              He speaks clearly. He is a very effective communicating the facts and figures.

              Though he lacks the verbal finance of articulating and inspiring nuances in his tone and speech. His dry, dull boring facts must be excused. While not presenting, he is saving pennies on components, striking deals with assemblers, pushing excellence in all areas.

              But, let me ask this question – where do you think that leadership will be in the next 3 years? Definitely a strong and profitable Apple – we all wish this to remain – but i believe we also want daring, bold, mind blowing, insanely great products also RIGHT. With his leadership – I am not sure – He is not less about risk taking and more about calculated cold plans – proven to work yes. But that is not the Apple I know.

              Apple is about inspiration, visionary, beyond the expected, think different!

        2. engineering genius OR master logisticstitian — make up your mind

          Steve Jobs was neither a genius in engineering nor a logistics master . He was the visionary – pushing for dreams and possibilities – inspiring the company – selling his Kool-aid flavoured reality distortions. Inventing and installing a belief and trust in your judgement to the company – giving passion to the fight. Job had a knack; knowing where the puck will be and how to position his team for the game (including Tim ofc) that is what makes a good CEO.

          Tim expresses none of this. As talented and gifted Logitics man that Tim is – the truth is – yeah, the right man at absence of Jobs. But not the right man for the long run. In three years time you will see Tim Cook will be more harm then good Apple as CEO. Return to logistics only – do what you do best.

          1. Again, absolute bullshit! Tim and the rest of the team have been expertly trained by Steve and are quite capable of carrying on the vision of Steve. Tim has proved himself quite capable of carrying forward Steve’s legacy. He will not in fact “be more harm than good”. That is a ridiculous accusation. Give it a rest! just sit back and watch his own brilliance at work.

            1. I strongly agree with freerange. Tim is CEO for many reasons, perhaps the most important of which is Steve Jobs picked him, just like he selected everybody else on the executive team.

              That said, I think Scott is Apple’s best presenter these days.

            2. I do believe Steve entrusted these talented and brilliant people to join the Apple team. And, that their own personalities and experiences were added value to Apple as a whole. This I have doubt. You free range turkey – prepare to be verbally slaughtered – joke!

              However, not because you say so. .
              Do you have any proof that Steve expertly trained these people?
              I don’t think so.

              I think they are capable, but similarly to Walt Disney and Jim Henson; the magic is not the same without them.

              The best CEO will be one how evokes the passion and the vision of Apple as we once knew. And this needs to be from the leader who can convey and make us believe.
              Tim Cook is not.

  3. Agreed. Phil is hokey and uninspiring. Scott is much better, and his presentations could be GREAT if he realized that he should drop the smug and the smirk. Scott isn’t ready for the CEO role yet, but Apple should be grooming him for it. Tim is OK to continue things as they are for the time being and maybe grow the enterprise market (which wold be a BIG DEAL), but Apple functions best when its CEO has a technology/product VISION. In 2-3 years, Apple will need a new vision for the future, because whatever roadmap SJ developed will be obsolete by then.

    1. Agreed. 2 – 3 years afterwards I think Tim will do more harm to Apple then good as CEO.

      Scott might not be ready for the position but when is any CEO in that manner? His smirky youthfulness is also key for longevity as is his passion and it shockingly parallels that of Jobs. Review interviews of Steve and look for his smirks and glee expressions.

      Scott is not mimicking Steve; it is seen as natural and honest in his personality; throughly passionate and real. Not to match or copy that of Steve but with a youthful and longevity in-tune to us and consumers — key to how we perceive Apple.

  4. Wishful thinking.

    Steve was a drop-out and acid-dropper
    Forstall is a conformist valedictorian with a 4.0 avg
    (Aww shucks!)

    Steve built Apple from thin air.
    Forstall has contributed but created nothing.

    Steve’s vision also created Next (OSX), rebuilt Apple, and pushed Pixar to greatness.
    Forstall?

    Yes, Steve could call the shots or act tempestuous.
    People accepted it because he had an undeniable track record
    was usually right,
    AND HELD THE BIG BAG O MONEY.
    Forstall?

    1. DOA – Doomed On Announcement – Brau

      Steve realized the value of his people. Period.

      Built Apple from thin Air, you forget that Woz was involved?

      Next, wouldn’t had happened if the team who joined didn’t believe in him.

      Money talks and experience has a lot to say too, money helps to make right investments.

      Getting the best to work at Apple has been the most amazing thing Jobs has ever done. Each of these highly skilled and talented folk at Apple do have passion and experiences and raising the value of Apple.

      Wishful thinking in what… what does Tim Cook inspire you to do? Buy stock in Apple?

  5. I find it intriguing that there are outsider determinations as to what is best for Apple and who should guide and present and inspire. There is always be a melancholy wishfulness that we would like to see someone as dynamic and visionary as Steve Jobs at the helm of Apple and on stage for Apple. (I missed “one more thing” from this last presentation).

    That said – Apple University has prepared and continues to initiate and guide members of the Apple team in the who, what, when, where and why processes that make Apple uniquely Apple.

    The presentation without Steve Jobs was great! Not one presenter got in the way of the introduction of two very exciting products. And that is the purpose of a presentation – be the messenger; not the message.

    Steve Jobs had a one in a lifetime knack that we may never see again, I feel. To castigate and nitpick people’s abilities and compare it to Steve Jobs is really shortsighted.

    Does Apple have enough of a vision to see beyond the next 2-3 years? Consider that AU was designed and instituted to carry on and expand the “team” vision of Apple. That too was part of Steve Jobs extraordinary vision.

    Cheers.

    1. Good points. The presentation without Steve Jobs, however was not great.

      Tim was long winded, drawn out and down right boring.
      Phil was not at his best and covering for Scott on vacation.
      The new iPad amazing screen and specs did fine – but pretty much the crowds will easily think not much new here. The general public (are the customers) and this matters.

      So careful here – because iPad is the computer for the rest of us. Simplification and secure – solid and reliable – YET – they also expected to be amazing, dazzled and entertained. They want to see and hear the hype.

      I think the new iPad will be an amazing device and is still way beyond what any other company has to offer. Yet, without the kool-aid and the sheer fanatic joy from a CEO on his latest product – Tim sucks the life out of the entire show.

  6. Tim’s careful, that’s all. He’s precise. Even his emotion feels dialed in from a distance of a few seconds of consideration and measuring.

    I’m not surprised at’all that he’s the best logistics guy on the planet.

    To present well, as steve did, you need moments of self-aware, unscripted joy. Phil pushes the limit and makes it seem like he’s trying. The iPhoto, iMovie guy has it, but he’s such a blitz of glitz that you don’t feel like you’re “with him”. Scott is smug as hell. I imagine there are lots if people who’d just like to punch him in the mouth, thinking it would do him a world of good. It actually would if it would humble him, but only a jobs-ian level screw up and exile would probably do that. He’s just not wise. Socrates said the truly wise person is the one who knows he does not know. Scott obviously thinks he knows.

    So, who should be CEO? The answer is never Phil and never gee whiz. Ives doesn’t want to run the company. He’s doing exactly what he wants – anything he wants. Tim is best for up to 7-10 years. Scott is perfect in ten years or so if he discovers spiritual depths, learns how to be wrong and generally can get grounded. Then he’d stop coming off as a dick and actually take on the sort of bigger than life energy that grounded, brilliant, wise people give off. It’s in him.

    That said, if Tim can generate genuine, love-driven spontaneity, that shows a spark for loving life, he could be good for decades.

  7. Steve Jobs was an imp. He just could not wipe that twisty smirk off his face—the fleeting, nasty smile that he never bothered to suppress, and which appeared every time he was about to strip your clothing off, reveal the mine field he had just laid, or pull the carpet from under Baby Blue. Because he knew that we wouldn’t quite get it then, and he knew the ossified media wouldn’t get it until it became obvious to a coelacanth, and he knew the competition would never get it. It was a knowing smirk of triumph, one which would outlive him and linger like the grin of the Cheshire Cat as the fools chased each other down the drainpipe of irrelevance.

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