Forstall spoke to the interns as well. It was an incredibly impressive talk, and an incredibly disturbing one. Forstall was clearly the smartest person in the room; what was disturbing was that he obviously knew it, and wanted us all to know it as well.2 When the news broke about his firing, I was totally shocked, yet totally unsurprised.
Still, imagine what guts it took to fire him. Forstall is, more than anyone on the planet – including Jobs – responsible for the iPhone (for this reason alone I found the potshots taken at Forstall, particularly by Craig Federighi, to be in poor taste). He is an incredible engineer – legend has it he could write, or rewrite, nearly any part of the iOS source code on command, and would routinely do so to win disputes in managerial meetings – and a NEXT man, and the closest thing to a Steve Jobs 2.0.
Yet Cook fired him anyway.
How Apple is different under Tim Cook, yet remains Apple.