Watch out, Tim Cook: Apple VP Scott Forstall is eyeing your job

A new book on Apple claims Forstall is the most likely person to replace Tim Cook, though Forstall wasn't able to confirm Apple will, in fact, put him in that slot.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
Apple Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall.
Apple Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall. Apple

Though Apple CEO Tim Cook has been on the job for only a few months, a new book on the company claims one of its top executives is already eyeing the top spot.

According to author Adam Lashinsky, author of "Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired--and Secretive--Company Really Works," which is due out next week, Apple Senior Vice President for iOS Software Scott Forstall is already making it clear he wants to be the company's next CEO. And at least right now, he looks to be the heir apparent at the company, Lashinsky claims.

"If there's a knock on Forstall," Lashinsky wrote in his book, according to Fortune, which obtained a copy, "it's that he wears his ambition in plainer view than the typical Apple executive. He blatantly accumulated influence in recent years, including, it is whispered, when Jobs was on medical leave."

If Forstall ever were to take over at Apple, he'd certainly carry a resume befitting the job. He's a graduate of Stanford and played a key role developing core technologies at Steve Jobs' startup NeXT. Since he joined Apple in 1997, Forstall handled the development of Mac OS X before jumping to iOS, the software that's helped catapult the iPhone and iPad to the top of the mobile game.

Prior to Jobs' decision to step down as Apple CEO, there was some speculation that Forstall could take over. He's notably younger than many of Apple's executives--42 or 43, according to his Wikipedia page--and helps drive significant income for the company. He has also performed well during Apple keynotes--a role Jobs was of course a master of.

But Apple and Jobs had other plans. Tim Cook took over the company after Jobs said Cook would be the ideal fit. It turned out the company had a succession plan in place for quite some time--and Forstall wasn't in it.

If Forstall does, in fact, want to take over at Apple, he might be forced to wait some time. Cook has so far kept Apple churning out huge profits, and his board is so trusting of his abilities that he took nearly $400 million in compensation last year. Assuming all goes well, he could be at Apple for a long time. Will the ambitious Forstall be willing to wait or will he decide to go elsewhere?

"Whether Forstall will happily remain a supporting player," Lashinsky wrote, according to Fortune, "will be one of the great internal dramas of Cook's tenure."

Of course, Forstall won't say. In fact, he didn't even say anything to Lashinsky--no one at Apple did. Like so many Apple books that have come before it, Lashinsky's title is based on interviews with company outsiders and former employees. So, while Forstall may, in fact, be eyeing the CEO suite, for now take this rumor with the proverbial grain of salt.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on Lashinsky's claims.