Former Apple Retail Chief Ron Johnson is out at JCPenney after his radical retail redesign failed to ignite sales in the same manner in which Apple Stores had grown accustomed. Ron Johnson left Apple in 2011 for the JCP job after a decade at Apple. He helped design the original Apple Store concept after being lured away from Target by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. He pioneered concepts like the Genius Bar which was unheard of at the time but still a growing trend in the industry.
We know more than a few folks who would like to see him back at Apple which meanwhile has found him difficult to replace. One such attempt was the hiring and subsequent firing of John Browett, a former Dixon’s UK CEO.
Johnson continued to live in the Bay area during his stint at JCP commuting to Plano Texas via Jet so…
We’ve reached out to JCP and Apple for comment and will update as appropriate. Press release follows:
We knew that Browett was fired last week, but Apple was waiting for a good time to announce the move. We’re not sure exactly what was the nail in Forstall’s coffin but Inside Apple/Fortune’s Adam Lashinky’s take is that Forstall’s refusalto sign the Maps apology is what sealed his fate. Forstall was at last week’s iPad mini event but uncharacteristically didn’t present anything.
Interestingly, Cook also did the apologizing for Browett’s hair-brained schemes to cut head counts at Apple Stores ahead of the holiday shopping season to save a few bucks.
Lesson to learn: Be big enough to apologize publicly. Look at Bob Mansfield. Out of Retirement Mansfield publicly apologized for the Retina MacBook Pro EPEAT fiasco; fast forward months and all of a sudden he’s got his own division and a lucrative two year contract. Apple execs should be falling over themselves to apologize for their mistakes going forward.
Browett’s situation was simple: everyone hated him, especially his retail employees. Apple watchers, especially those familiar with Dixons in the UK (Americans: think Best Buy), were shocked at the decision to allow him to follow Ron Johnson as Apple’s Retail head. Cook initially defended Browett but the #Firebrowett movement was too strong. So far Tim Cook is 0 for 2 in big outside hires (Mark Papermaster was hired during one of Jobs’ absences) . That might be something to be concerned about.
Forstall’s departure is an entirely different situation. Although more information may come to light, in the hours after the announcement it seems a power struggle happened, and the Ive camp won out over Forstall’s. The two execs and Steve Jobs subordinates have faced off for years and reportedly wouldn’t be in the same meetings unless called specifically by Tim Cook. It certainly didn’t help that Mansfield didn’t like Forstall either. I think we’ll hear more of the details in the weeks and months ahead.