After being fired from Apple in 2012, the former iOS boss, Scott Forstall, took a missing tea and reappeared only in 2015 (as a Broadway producer) to talk about the company. Since then, Forstall has given some (few) interviews about the Cupertino giant.
Last October, however, he participated in an episode of the program «Philosophy Talk», entitled “The Creative Life” (“A Vida Criativa”), in which he discussed various topics on the backstage of the creation of Apple TV, the Steve Jobs relationship, among others.
Although it was recorded about three months ago, the video of the interview was only published this week on YouTube. As the name of the program suggests, some ideologies behind human actions are debated, which allowed Forstall to recount his time at Apple from his creations.
The first mention of the Cupertino giant came when Forstall tried to compare his career change with a period of near bankruptcy for the company. According to him, risk taking goes hand in hand with innovation.
At Apple, once, we were close to bankruptcy and we launched the iPod, which finally sold well and we had the best selling product in the company’s history, and then we launched the iPod nano. We knew we were going to develop it and canceled the entire iPod mini line before we even shipped the new product and that could have devastated the company. But we did it because we believed it and, therefore, we took the risk.
During the conversation, co-host, Ken Taylor, described Jobs’s reputation as “a brutally honest man” and asked Forstall how creativity was able to thrive in that environment. The company’s former executive said that everyone would commit 100% to something when it was found that it was a good idea.
I think that when we were working on a certain project, on new resources, we protected this bud from a new idea and we took great care of it. Certainly, if we got to the point where an idea was not a good one, we would cut it off, but the moment we considered whether it was worth it, 100% would support it. You can really create an environment to support creativity.
When he was at the head of the Mac team, Forstall said that after major launches, he gave every employee in his department a month to work on whatever project they wanted. Everyone then presented their creations to Forstall. And one of those presentations led to the creation of Apple TV.
An [apresentação] I saw was about a 3 meter user interface that I loved and we transformed it into an Apple TV. Apple TV was invented because someone was encouraged to do what they wanted for a month and we made it into a product. You can support creativity in this type of environment.
At the end of the interview, Forstall discussed what bothers him most about how people use the iPhone, suggesting that the device has become «very ubiquitous» in modern life. In your home, for example, no devices are allowed on the table during meals, a time reserved for human interaction.
I don’t like it when people walk down the street just looking at their smartphones, instead of looking around and actually talking to people. So, I really think the iPhone is a tool. Now I look at it and say, «Well, it allowed people to have social media.» But now there are these cones of … these echo chambers that are destroying many things. And this is much more worrying, but I think you can create something and there will be both good and bad uses. We have to feel morally responsible for the ethical creation and use of our products.
The full interview lasts about 1h30 – a lot of it focuses on philosophical discourse. The interview with Forstall begins just before 17 minutes in the video above.