Executive Changes at Apple Have ‘Rattled Rank-And-File Employees’ as the Company Looks Beyond iPhone

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Apple existed before the iPhone, but there is no denying that the company’s first smartphone changed things forever.

But here we are more than a decade beyond the launch of the first iPhone and Apple is looking for change. The Wall Street Journal has a report out on Monday that aims to shed some light on some of the changes that the iPhone company has made recently, specifically when it comes to executives. Apple is trying to find what’s next, even if it already looks like its Services and Wearables divisions are doing quite well.

Part of that change is an ongoing executive shuffle. Now, some familiar faces and names are sticking around (for the time being), including Phil Schiller and Tim Cook. But some other names, including Angela Ahrendts, have other plans. According to the report, these executive shakeups “have rattled rank-and-file employees unaccustomed to frequent leadership changes”. What’s more, the leadership changes have led some projects at Apple to be put on hold. The pause in development is meant to let the new managers take the reins and reassess what’s been made so far.

The report states that the reasons for the changes at the executive level very “division by division”, but that it mostly comes down to a company that’s looking beyond the iPhone. And it isn’t just departures that are shaking things up at Apple. For instance, John Giannandrea was named the leader of several divisions at Apple, including Siri, Machine Learning, and artificial intelligence, back in December of last year.

The report also notes that Apple recently removed 200 employees working on its autonomous driving project, also known as “Project Titan”. And Apple’s incoming TV streaming service, which is rumored to be unveiled on March 25, has seen the company restructuring employees to better prepare for that service’s arrival later this year.

“The changes, along with Apple’s recent sales woes, have become conversation fodder for current and ex-Apple employees, partly because they are among the most pronounced since Tim Cook’s early years as chief executive. Retail chief Ron Johnson left shortly before Mr. Cook took over in 2011, and mobile software executive Scott Forstall was dismissed a year later. Their departures led to the hiring of Ms. Ahrendts, the elevation of Craig Federighi to the top software job and Mr. Cue’s assumption of responsibility for several services, creating an 11-person executive team that remained largely unchanged for five years.”

It’s not all bad news for Apple’s autonomous car project, either. Last year it was reported that the company had re-hired Doug Field from Tesla. Field was then given day-to-day command over the Project Titan effort. However, the removal of the 200 employees happened after Field took over, so it was one change followed by an even bigger one.

What’s next for Apple? Well, as mentioned above, Services and Wearables are going to be a huge push for Apple in the future. We already know the TV streaming effort is coming, and Apple also has a News subscription service coming down the pike, too. According to Tim Cook, though, improving people’s health is going to be the biggest contribution the company has for mankind.

[via The WSJ]