There’s been another major shakeup in Apple’s uppermost echelons, as one of the company’s most iconic senior executives is moving into a more advisory role.
In a surprise announcement yesterday, Apple revealed that Phil Schiller, longstanding Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, and the face of almost all of Apple’s biggest product announcements in the past several years, will be stepping down from his Senior VP role and advancing to the role of “Apple Fellow,” joining such luminaries as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, original Lisa and Macintosh designers Bill Atkinson and Rich Page, and famous Macintosh advocate and evangelist Guy Kawasaki.
Phil Schiller has actually been one of the longest-serving executives at Apple, predating even current CEO Tim Cook by a few years. Schiller actually first joined Apple’s marketing department in 1987, although he left for a while, not returning until Steve Jobs retook the helm in 1996, where he took on the position of Senior VP of Worldwide Products, a role that later morphed into Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing around the time of the original iPhone launch in 2007.
Having served in that position for the last 13 years, Schiller has been responsible for a great more than just traditional marketing, however. As Apple notes, Schiller’s former division is “responsible for Apple’s product management and product marketing, developer relations, market research, business management, as well as education, enterprise, and international marketing.”
Gone But Not Forgotten
Schiller will be handing over almost all of the reigns of the Worldwide Marketing division to his chief lieutenant, Greg “Joz” Joswiak, who has served as the Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing for the past four years. Joswiak has over 20 years in various other leadership roles within Apple, and is the force responsible for the product management and marketing of the original iPod in 2001 and the original iPhone in 2007.
However, while Schiller’s transition to Apple Fellow is in many ways a retirement from his day to day responsibilities, it’s still going to be something of a working retirement. Schiller notes that at age 60 it’s time for “some planned changes” in his life, but at the same time he also expects to keep working at Apple for as long as he can.
I’ll keep working here as long as they will have me, I bleed six colors, but I also want to make some time in the years ahead for my family, friends, and a few personal projects I care deeply about.Phil Schiller
To that end, Schiller will continue to head up the App Store and Apple Events, reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook, although it’s unclear exactly how that will fit into the grand scheme of things.
Certainly, the App Store has been one of Apple’s most controversial areas as of late, becoming the subject of several antitrust investigations and other controversies, and it seems likely that Cook and Schiller still feel that need for a steady and experienced hand at the helm of that particular ship; Apple’s approach to the App Store can sometimes seem a bit heavy-handed, and its definitely valuable to have a more diplomatic voice representing it.
Cook also adds that in addition to those two official responsibilities that remain on Schiller’s plate, he’ll also continue to serve in an advisory capacity, providing “thought partnership and guidance” to the rest of Apple’s senior leadership team.
Phil has helped make Apple the company it is today and his contributions are broad, vast, and run deep. In this new role he will continue to provide the incredible thought partnership, and guidance that have defined his decades at Apple.Tim Cook
This latest transition represents the second time a legendary executive has left Apple in the past year — last fall saw the departure of Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, who seems to have moved on completely into his own independent design company after almost 25 years of heading up Apple’s product design, first as Senior VP before being elevated into the C-suite in the new position of Chief Design Officer.
Interestingly, Ive was not granted the honorific of Apple Fellow, despite being the creator of all of the company’s most iconic designs and Steve Jobs’ right-hand man for years. While it’s unclear why Ive would be left out of this club, it may speak to rumours that Ive had been “phoning it in” for a few years prior to his departure; Apple executives have denied these rumours, however.
Although she doesn’t quite fit into the same vaunted category as Schiller and Ive, last year Apple’s Senior VP of Retail, Angela Ahrendts also left the company, after having come over from her position at the CEO of Burberry five years earlier to reinvent Apple’s retail division and increase its profile with the fashion industry. While Ahrendts made some significant changes within Apple’s retail arm, her five-year tenure with the company pales in comparison to the 25-year-plus careers of Ive and Schiller.
However, while “Joz” Joswiak will undoubtedly bring some new ideas and direction to Apple’s Worldwide Marketing division, he’s also served under Schiller for two decades, making it unlikely that we’re going to see any significant changes as a result of this transition in the short term.