It's difficult to talk about the turnaround of Apple
Does this rift spell future trouble, especially without the strong leadership of Jobs, who previously made it meld?
Scott Forstall leads Apple's mobile iOS software division. Before his current role, he joined Jobs at NeXT in the early 1990s, joined Apple when NeXT was acquired, and led the development of the desktop OS X operating system. Forstall is said to have similar quirks as Jobs; as BusinessWeek writes, "he routinely takes credit for collaborative successes, deflects blame for mistakes, and is maddeningly political." Forstall also shares Jobs' design view, which is what clashes with Ives'. That view has to do with a big word: skeuomorphism.
Don't be afraid of it -- skeuomorphism (it's OK to practice saying it out loud) is just the act of incorporating old design that was once functional into new products, even if that design now has no functional purpose. Such examples include stylistic pockets in clothing, chandelier light bulbs that are shaped like candle flames, , bookshelves in an e-book application, and the fake leather-grain in Apple's iCal calendar application.
Forstall, iOS leader, is all for skeuomorphs. Ive, design leader, is all about simplicity.
Forstall vs. Ive
Fast Company reports that Jobs apparently agreed with Forstall for incorporating many nods to the past, like including green felt and other casino-like items in Apple's Game Center. These design elements add extra flair to the user experience. Ive, on the other hand, distances himself from those designs. Known for his simplistic hardware designs, evidenced by the single home button on the iPhone and iPad, Ive told The Telegraph that he's "not really connected" to the software design. Perhaps it's because skeuomorphs also hold back innovation -- that is, if software follows its real-life equivalents, it won't function beyond current norms.
This rift is interesting because it seems to contradict Apple's integrated chain from design to production to retail store. It also offers competitors ways to differentiate themselves with more innovative software decisions. For example, Microsoft's
Microsoft's success with a stylistically simplistic operating system will also be important for hardware makers such as Dell
In the future
Internal politics may harm Apple's future, but so far it seems current CEO Tim Cook has been able to deal with any conflicts, even if the latest iOS hasn't met Apple's bar for quality. One author claims that Forstall wants to be Apple's next CEO. On the other hand, Forstall recently sold off 95% of his Apple shares, although he still has hundreds of thousands in restricted stock vesting over the next few years. Monetary incentives could trump any desire to break up, but Ive himself believes Apple's goal isn't to make money, but make great products. It will be interesting to see how the drama of design plays out.
For a more in-depth look at Apple's prospects as an investment, including other key areas to watch in the future and other risks Apple faces, such as cellular carrier subsidies, grab your copy of our new premium report. Click here to get started.
Fool contributor Dan Newman does not hold shares of any of the above companies. Follow him on Twitter,@TMFHelloNewman.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Apple, and Microsoft, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple and a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.