Tony Fadell was one of the senior vice presidents at Apple most responsible for shipping the original iPod.
I was at the starting point of first 18 gens of iPod that shipped (& a few generations that didn’t ship). Was a team effort, but mainly technology driven since we could only deliver what we could push the tech to do.— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
You are defined by what you do & also by what you don’t do. https://t.co/P3u11ZcmLm
Why does Fadell think the iPod went on to be so successful?
The real reason why iPod & iPhone were successful was based on the market timing & the complete ground up design (HW+SW) That said, I pushed to ship the 1st iPod in <10 months. Long timelines are the death of daring projects inside (struggling) companies.— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
We even surprised SJ! https://t.co/lnMHYG5BBh
Does Fadell wish he could go back and make any hardware changes to that original iPod?
Not at all… we did they best we could with what was available at the time. I bet the whole product & business on a processor from a tiny unknown startup who had failed once to deliver. Most big companies would NEVER do such a risky thing. https://t.co/3eGhayv5w0— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
A good minimal delightful product was important but so was iterating and expanding the line up and down.
Exactly - Design + HW + SW + App (then later + Content)— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
But even more importantly - continually introducing new products at lower price points while adding new features at the high end. That was the way iPod locked up the market with consumers. https://t.co/CC4X3klEcf
They had to take some big risks and make some big bets on components.
I remember the day when Steve called me to the Board Room to personally sign a $4B purchase order for Samsung Flash for the Nano. “Are you sure we are ordering the right stuff? It’s going to work, right?” It was the biggest single order Apple had ever placed at the time. https://t.co/O21WJh6V42— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
Microsoft wasn't a concern back then (but is now), but Sony was. They owned the music pipeline from studio to Walkman.
Many sleepless nights worrying about Sony. It was one of my biggest questions I asked Steve during the first pitch “Sony owns every audio market category.…”— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
MSFT - no worries - they weren’t a SW+HW innovator like they are today. I would worry about them now however. https://t.co/XuDG9hfoX5
But Sony was too concerned about protecting their music branch to let their devices branch compete in MP3 players.
Sony Corp was too concerned about the declining CD music sales in the Sony Music Entertainment business. They didn’t want to appear to embrace MP3s - since that implied the music was stolen. Corporate politics. Reminds me of Kodak who invented the digital camera… https://t.co/OfEnwyWxtd— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
Steve Jobs wasn't on board with a lot of the early decisions. Including letting iTunes and the iPod go to Windows PCs.
Exactly - over many many objections that Steve had. Also we added USB2.0 specifically much to the chagrin of FireWire lovers…— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
Oh the memories of those fundamental (and possibly religious/dogmatic) changes that are so critical to the next phase of the business… https://t.co/5Rw3GlIUKh
But the Wall Street Journal's personal technology columnist, Walt Mossberg, helped convince Jobs.
How did Fadell and his team get it all done?
Don’t hide the fears from the team, talk about them, embrace them.— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 6, 2019
When you know your demons, you can rise to the challenge of defeating them.
But you can never forget them (or new ones that arise) when, hopefully, success comes. Otherwise it’s the beginning of the end. https://t.co/s1RTjL7xzO
Fadell left Apple shortly after the iPhone and went on to found Nest, which he sold to Google. He's now an investor. You can follow him on Twitter @tfadell
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