Kara Swisher, reporting for All Things D:
In this regard, [redacted] was not known as someone who played well with others. While considered highly effective and “deeply brilliant” by most for being able to lasso [redacted] most important unit, he also had a longstanding reputation for being very difficult to work with.
I certainly won't take credit for the comparison I'm about to make (it's been made by dozens of outlets already) but the above quote (redacted by me) could be about either Microsoft's (Ex) Windows Head Steve Sinofsky or Apple's (Ex) Senior Vice President of iOS Development Scott Forstall. Take your pick.
The two men shared an uncanny resemblance in reputation and were presumably let go (at least in part) on the basis of those reputations.
Here's the interesting aspect:
That included tussles with former chief software architect Ray Ozzie — who left Microsoft in 2010, in part after battling against Sinofsky over how the cloud-based world was shaping up, and how Microsoft should respond.
Likewise, former Entertainment and Devices unit leaders Robbie Bach and J Allard also found themselves on the losing end of a corporate battle with Sinofsky, as Microsoft axed their planned Courier tablet and agreed to give tablet responsibilities to the Windows team. Both left the company in 2010.
According to Swisher, Steve Ballmer sided with Sinofsky in each of those fights -- at the expense of a lot of talent, it must be said -- only to get rid of him once it came down to an inevitable "it's me or you" showdown.
At least that's the implication.
Contrast this with Apple's ouster of Forstall whose tenure included "tussles with" Jonathan Ive and Bob Mansfield among others. Mansfield was threatening to leave the company and it would seem that Cook chose to staunch the wound by cutting off the hand, rather than letting the arm fester -- and eventually losing both.
A tough call, no doubt, but it seems to have worked: Mansfield is now un-retired and Jony Ive has more design clout than ever before.
A new era of collaboration and mutual respect can begin! We'll see, because...
...a lot of people are wondering if the loss of Forstall, an early confidant of and some would say heir apparent to Steve Jobs, signals the beginning of a fall from grace for Apple.
There's no doubt though that the potential loss of both Mansfield and Ive and the eventual loss of Forstall anyway (as he consolidated power away from CEO Tim Cook) would have been unimaginably worse.
No matter the scenario, neither Apple nor Microsoft are going anywhere anytime soon, but Apple is currently left with many of its core players intact and is thus able to course correct where necessary whereas Microsoft spent years bleeding talent before ultimately losing the person who was both the cause of the problem and the company's most polarizing figure.
Sadly, this is all happening even as Microsoft falls farther and farther behind in the post-PC era.
For better or worse, the whole arm is gone.
The only remaining question is whether Ballmer waited too long to save his own head.