(USA TODAY) The head of Apple's iPhone software development was asked to resign after he refused to sign a letter apologizing for the flaws in Apple's mapping application, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal says Scott Forstall's refusal was the latest clash between him and other executives, and it led to the company's announcement Monday that he is stepping down and leaving the company next year.
Forstall's unit was responsible for the Maps application, which was unfavorably compared to the Google Maps app it replaced.
Apple also announced the immediate departure of John Browett, a British retail executive who took over Apple's stores in April.
Forstall, the longtime head of Apple's iOS mobile software, will remain an adviser to Cook until next year.
Apple's lead designer Jony Ive and a few others will divide Forstall's responsibilities until a replacement is named,Apple said.
The departures, which come shortly before the critical holiday shopping season, might have long-term implications at Apple but are unlikely to impact its sales as Apple competitors such as Google and Amazon.com ramp up mobile offerings, says Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner.
Apple offered no explanation for the departures, but both executives oversaw major missteps in the past year.
Browett took over the retail job about six months ago. His predecessor, Ron Johnson, a major architect of the successful Apple stores, left to become CEO at JCPenney. One of Browett's first moves was to cut staff at the stores, a cost-cutting move the company has since reversed.
Forstall, who also was part of the team that created Mac OS X, oversaw the creation of the widely criticized Apple Maps that recently replaced Google Maps as the default map app for the iPhone. The company has apologized for the inadequacies of Apple Maps.
Since stock markets were closed Monday and will be again Tuesday because of Hurricane Sandy, it will be later in the week before any potential effect on Apple's stock is known.