Wow, who saw this coming?

Scott Forstall who was once considered a possible successor to CEO Tim Cook will leave Apple next year. In addition, John Browett, who only recently became the head of the company’s retail unit is also leaving.

According to Apple, Forstall, who was the company’s vice president of iOS software will now serve as an “advisor” to Cook. In 2013, he will leave Apple for good. Craig Federighi, who will remain Apple’s senior vice president of OS X, will take over the reigns of iOS as well, effective immediately.

In the meantime, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, and Bob Mansfield will take on added roles.

Ive, who serves as Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, will now provide “leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI)” design across the company.

Cue, who as the senior vice president of Internet software and services, helped create the iTunes Store, the App Store, the iBookstore, and iCloud. He will now take on the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps. In doing so, the company’s entire line of online services will be in one group for the first time.

Finally, Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies. This group combines the company’s wireless teams into one organization, which will also include Apple’s semiconductor team.

 

John Browett

John Browett

Browett, who only arrived at Apple in May, is gone immediately. According to the company, a search for a new head of retail is underway. In the interim, Apple’s retail team will report directly to Cook.

In announcing the management changes, Cook said:

We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.

While Browett’s exit is somewhat surprising, Forstall’s even more so. In May, the executive sold 95 percent of his stake in Apple.

Naturally, these changes are significant. We’ll keep you updated on what they mean for Apple going forward in the days and weeks ahead.