Scott Forstall, senior vice-president of iPhone software and one of the original architects of Apple's OS X software, will leave next year. John Browett, poached just five months ago from Dixons to become head of retail, is also set to leave. Apple said that four key executives — including top designer Jony Ive — would "add responsibilities to their roles."
The rare shakeup comes shortly after the introduction of iPhone's latest software was marred by a mapping disaster. Tim Cook, the chief executive, was forced to apologise for Apple Maps, meant as a rival to Google Maps, after it proved inaccurate and incomplete. Last week the company delivered disappointing financial results as iPad sales fell short of Wall Street's targets.
Eddy Cue, senior vice-president of internet software and services, will take charge of Maps and Apple's Siri voice recognition responsibilities. The retail team will report directly to Cook until a replacement for Browett can be found.
The company said Ive will provide "leadership and direction for Human Interface across the company" in addition to his role as the leader of industrial design.
"We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple's history," said Cook. "The amazing products that we've introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services."
Browett was appointed just five months ago and was set to receive a $56m pay package over five years. It's not yet clear how much of that will be triggered by his early departure. There have been reports that he clashed with other Apple executives.
Forstall has been a major influence at Apple for over a decade. He joined the firm in 1997 and was responsible for several releases of the Mac OS X operating system, most notably Mac OS X Leopard. The company said the management shift would "encourage even more collaboration".
Trading in Apple's shares is suspended at present with the closing of News York's stock exchange as the city braces itself for the arrival of hurricane Sandy.
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