How a journalist convinced Jobs to bring iTunes to PCs and other tidbits from Tony Fadell interview

By , Feb 29, 2016

Steve Jobs on easy rider motorbike

It was The Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, one of Steve Jobs’s favorite reviewers, of all people who has finally managed to persuade then Apple CEO to expand the addressable market for iPods by bringing iTunes to Windows PCs.

Jobs, Nest founder Tony Fadell and then Apple executive charged with iPod and iPhone development recalls, long insisted that the iPod be used as a vehicle to increase Mac sales. “Steve, the iPod is $399. But really it’s not. Because you have to buy a Mac!” We had to give people a taste,” Fadell recalls telling Jobs, to no avail.

He eventually relented and agreed that Apple should bring iTunes to Windows, under one condition: the software was to be tested by journalist Walt Mossberg. “We’re going to build these and run it by Mossberg,” Jobs reportedly said. “And if Mossberg says it’s good enough to ship, then we’ll ship it.”

Walt reportedly said, “Not bad. I’d ship it,” and the rest is history.

A few years later, Mossberg asked Jobs during an on-stage interview what it felt like to bring iTunes to Windows, to which he replied, “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell.”

“The iPod Godfather,” as the media affectionately calls Tony Fadell, gave a sweeping interview to Venture Beat, here are a few interesting highlights.

One time, Steve showed Fadell a ping-pong-sized table that had a projector of a Mac on top of it, and you could interact with it. Then Steve said, “We’re going to put that in an iPod!”

Fadell recalls:

In the end it was clear that we needed to build a phone, and we needed to build a touch screen company on top of it. That’s exactly what we did. We created a touch screen company to build the multi-touch display. Then we needed a better operating system, so we brought a bunch of pieces of the Mac, a bunch of pieces of the iPod, and bolted them together.

That was the first version. Then we threw that away and made the second version of the iPhone. That was the one that shipped. It took two and a half to three years, depending on how you count it up, from the time we said we needed to do a phone to the time we actually shipped.

I also like this excerpt on why Apple wouldn’t go on and acquire a phone company as a way of getting itself a ticket into the mobile phone industry:

People asked me why we didn’t just buy a cell phone company and use them to help build the phone. But we weren’t making a cell phone with a little bit of music technology. We were building a computer with a little bit of cell phone in it. We had to start with a handheld computer team and add a little bit of the cellular thinking. Not the other way around, which was the way all the cell phone companies were trying to do it.

It’s interesting that no one at Apple used Blackberries at the time.

“We didn’t have any mobile stuff,” said Fadell. But as soon as they had the iPhone, the entire company ”transformed overnight.”

Fadell admitted that the original iPhone was a training wheels for Apple because the company had the wrong business model with carriers (no subsidy) and there was no App Store to download third-party apps from.

“The second one was where it took off, because the carriers could subsidize it,” he said.

“We had the right carriers. We had apps. It was so powerful.”

The entire interview is a fascinating read so do add it to your reading list if you don’t have the time to read through it now. Fadell led the team that created the first three versions of the iPhone and eighteen generations of the iPod, spending a decade with the company.

Source: Venture Beat

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  • the hood

    Second paragraph, ‘long insisted that the ipod be used’ etc etc. Who is long? It makes no sense in this article.

  • the hood

    Disregard an explanation, 15 hours later and no correction I see who wrote the article so that explains it.

  • It’s interesting how iTunes for Windows was first run by Walt Mosberg before shipping. They should do this again when you consider the recent criticism he dished out on his ‘Ctrl Walt Delete’ podcast. iTunes is a complete and utter mess at the moment.

    • the hood

      What’s even more interesting is the lack of response and correction to articles such as this. Shows what little respect some have to their own publications and to the readership.