Head of iPhone and iPad Software, Scott Forstall, To Leave Apple

Scott Forstall at iPhone 5 launch (Credit: Joanna Stern / ABC News)

Silicon Valley isn't letting Hurricane Sandy get in the way of big tech announcements today. On the heels of Google and Microsoft's big product launches this afternoon, Apple has just announced a big executive shake-up.

Scott Forstall, the senior vice president of iOS (the software made for the iPhone and iPad), will be leaving the company next year. In his absence, Jony Ive, Apple's lead hardware designer, will take over leadership and direction for, what Apple describes as, "Human Interface."

"His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple's products for more than a decade," Apple said in its press release.

The reasons for Forstall's departure are not given in Apple's press release. However, Forstall has been responsible for Apple's Maps and Siri features, both of which were criticized as half-baked at the time of launch. When iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 launched in September, Apple was knocked for its inaccurate Maps; CEO Tim Cook was forced to apologize to customers. According to Apple, Eddy Cue will now oversee Siri and Maps.

Industry analysts seem to agree that the Maps and Siri fiascos prompted the decision. "Apple Maps and Siri fell well short of both Apple and industry expectations. Since Forstall was in command, he was taken out," Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.

Ryan Block, a long-time Apple watcher, echoed the same thoughts. "Scott was also in charge of the new Maps product, one of Apple's most visible (if not monumental) failures of a flagship product in quite some time. SOMEONE's head was going to roll, it was just a matter of whose. (The last time Apple had something blow up this badly in its face - iPhone 4's Antennagate - iPhone hardware executive Mark Papermaster was unceremoniously fired.)," Block wrote on gdgt.com.

Apple announced that head of retail John Browett is also leaving; the company will be looking for a replacement in the coming months.

Apple announced last week its new iPad Mini and that it had sold 27 million iPhones in the 4th quarter.