Consumer electronics giant Apple suffered the loss of another key retail executive this week after the Mac-centric blog ifoAppleStore reported the company’s vice president of retail, Jerry McDougal, left Jan. 11. The report, which quoted unnamed sources, said the move was not work-related, with McDougal leaving to spend more time with his family.
The departure was later confirmed by Apple to the tech blog AllThingsD, which also said Apple’s former vice president of finance, Jim Bean, would be taking on the position. The company is still looking to replace John Browett as retail head after Browett, a former executive with U.K. big-box retailer Dixons Retail, was fired last autumn.
“Retail has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level, and they will continue the excellent work they’ve done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services and a focus on the customer that is second to none,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD. “Jim Bean is moving to Retail to help support our store teams. Jim has been at Apple for 15 years and is a great leader who understands our culture and focus on customer service.”
The announcement is the latest in a recent series of executive shuffling moves, most notably the departure of Scott Forstall, who ran software development and, according to multiple reports, was a protégé of the late Steve Jobs and was being groomed for a larger role.
Forstall led a team that designed the Maps apps in iOS 6 that was intended to replace Google's Maps app and so eliminate the software of Apple's primary competitor from its devices. When the Apple Maps app was found to be faulty and roundly criticized by consumers, Forstall refused to sign an apology issued by Apple and was fired in October 2012.
The turbulence at the executive level of management is just one of many factors complicating Apple’s future prospects for success, as the company battles rival Samsung (and other devices running Google’s Android operating system) for smartphone market share and heads into uncharted tablet territory (with its 7-inch iPad mini) in an effort to preserve its market lead there.
Meanwhile, the company’s shares have fallen 17 percent over the last three months and are now nearing their 52-week low, with investors becoming increasingly wary of Apple’s ability to continue its string of success. In addition, Apple has reduced its orders for certain iPhone 5 components because of weaker-than-expected demand, according to reports out of China, the world's fastest-growing smartphone market. In that market, Apple's share fell from fifth place to sixth during the third quarter of 2012, while Samsung held onto the No. 1 position.