The past month has made way for two dramatic changes in the tech industry: the firing of Apple’s Scott Forstall and Microsoft’s Stephen Sinofsky. These were two incredibly influential, yet controversial figures at their respective industry giants. While hard to work with, both men and their teams were capable of creating amazing devices; devices that we have made a part of our everyday lives. With their departures we are almost certain to see changes in how future devices look and feel.
Scott Forstall is widely regarded as the father of iOS. His hard-nosed management style and close proximity to Steve Jobs allowed him to gain massive influence at Apple. He was also reported to be the company’s largest proponent of skeuomorphism—a word that is as hard to type as it is to say. Skeumorphism is the art of using real life objects and textures to represent applications in a graphical user environment (i.e the use of an address book for contacts). With Forstall gone, we are almost certain to see the slow paring of skeumorphism in iOS. Not everyone was fond of the practice–specifically design guru Jonathan Ive. Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen. Of course, changes in Siri and Maps will be forthcoming, as they are allegedly why Forstall departed in the first place.
The situation at Microsoft is more complicated. Sinofsky was the father of Windows 8—a relatively new operating system. It is a dramatic departure from the Windows we have come to know and love. Some thought that his success in the company depended on it. In this case, that success is hard to define. While many thought Windows 8 to be a good step for Surface and touch devices as a whole, many desktop users have complained about its “touch friendly” interface. It also launched with a large app deficit compared to competing operating systems. Internally, Sinofsky was said to rule his division with an iron fist. With his departure, we may see less jockeying between the different company divisions and more collaboration. With Windows being Microsoft’s cash cow, there is no doubt that they’ll try to make it an experience that all of their users can identify with.
The changes we will experience as users of iOS and Windows devices are not clear. For all we know things may stay largely the same. However, considering the meteoric roles that both of these men held, that is highly unlikely.