APPLE chief executive Tim Cook has pushed out the powerful head of the company's mobile software products group in a major management shake-up that also claimed the recently hired chief of the retail stores division.
Scott Forstall, a long-time lieutenant of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, was asked to leave following years of friction with other top executives and his recent refusal to take responsibility for the mishandling of Apple's much-criticised mapping software.
Retail senior vice-president John Browett is also leaving.
Sources said Mr Forstall refused to sign a public apology after Apple's mapping product, which displaced the popular Google Maps on the iPhone and the iPad in September, contained embarrassing errors and drew fierce criticism.
Instead, Mr Cook signed the letter last month.
Mr Forstall will leave the company next year, Apple said in a statement.
Mr Forstall was senior vice-president of iOS software and was a key figure at several Apple product launch and keynote speeches. Last month he showed off new iOS features at the company's iPhone 5 launch.
Mr Forstall's group went ahead with the Maps service despite claims from some outside developers that they warned of flaws. After the launch, Apple was beset by complaints about errors.
Mr Cook was later forced to apologise that Maps did not meet the company's "incredibly high standard". He even went so far as to recommend that Apple customers turn to maps from hated rivals Google and Microsoft instead. Like Mr Jobs before him, he has proved intolerant of failure.
The last time Apple faced a similar public failure, with the so-called "antennagate" problem on the iPhone 4, iPhone hardware boss Mark Papermaster left the company.
There were rumoured tensions between Mr Forstall and other Apple executives over aspects of iOS.
"Competition is moving much faster to be more Apple-like," said Tim Bajarin, president of technology research and consulting firm Creative Strategies.
The executive changes hand substantially more responsibility to Jonathan Ive, Apple's celebrated industrial design chief, who will now oversee both hardware and software design.
Eddy Cue, a long-serving executive who runs online products, will take charge of Apple Maps and the Siri voice search software. Craig Federighi, who oversees the OSX software that powers the Macintosh computers, will take charge of the iOS software.
Apple did not say why Mr Browett was leaving. The retail stores will report directly to Mr Cook while a search is conducted for a new head of division.
Shares of Apple, the world's largest publicly traded company by market value, have declined 14pc in the past month since reaching a 52-week high of $705.07 in September. (Reuters)