As Gruber puts it: Forstall out; Ive up. While I won’t pretend that I saw this coming, it’s not a surprise, either. There’s been a visible tension between Ive’s style and Forstall’s for years; while Jobs was clearly down with the skeuomorphic look, from everything I’ve heard/read Forstall was also behind that. Forstall was also, from all I’ve heard, pretty much a jerk to work for. There’s going to be a lot of speculation that this is just about the PR disaster that Apple Maps created, but I doubt it’s that simple. (What might factor into it is how all the reports developers had been sending in for months before Maps was released that it was a half-baked product were handled: while I have no inside information on this, it’s hard to believe they were treated with sufficient seriousness.)
In any case, I’m genuinely interested to see what Ive’s sensibilities will bring to Apple’s UI design moving forward. While a quiet retreat from Rich Corinthian Leather is an obvious prediction, it’s the stuff we can’t easily foresee that’s going to be what we’ll be talking about in one or two years. The incessant “this would never have happened under Steve Jobs” chirping is as stupid as it is because everything Apple has released since Job’s departure is stuff that was being worked on when he was still there. But by late next year, that probably won’t be true.
Personally, I think it can only be good, with one caveat: Ive is no longer working in an isolated (if tastefully decorated) mad genius laboratory. He has to prove to be a better manager than Forstall was, too.