Steve Jobs Refused to Bring iPod & iTunes to PC Without Walt Mossberg's Blessing

Tony Fadell, known as the godfather of the iPod for his role in its design, recently sat down Appvance CEO Kevin Surace at the SV Forum Visionary Salon Dinner to reminisce about Steve Jobs and his time at Apple. VentureBeat attended the event and has shared a transcript of the discussion.

Fadell has discussed his role at Apple and his relationship with Jobs many times over the years, but new details, additional color, and lesser-known tidbits tend to surface with each new interview, making them worth a read. This most recent interview covers an interesting look at the decision to bring iTunes to the PC.

tonyfadell

Image via VentureBeat

Jobs was initially against introducing PC support for the iPod because he viewed the device as a way to attract people to the Mac. Fadell had a team of people working on porting iTunes to PC to give people who didn't own a Mac a taste of Apple products. Fadell describes his effort to get iTunes on the PC as a "knock down, drag out battle."

After being pressured by much of the iPod team to get iTunes to the biggest market, Jobs relented, but he insisted that journalist Walt Mossberg, who wrote for The Wall Street Journal at the time, sign off on the design.

He [Steve] finally said, "Okay. But under one condition. We're going to build these and run it by Mossberg. And if Mossberg says it's good enough to ship, then we'll ship it." He wanted to divorce himself from having to make the decision. But Walt said, "Not bad. I'd ship it." That's how we actually shipped on the PC.

Following iTunes' PC launch, Fadell says Mac sales accelerated. The iPod and iTunes were good on the PC, "but great on a Mac," enticing people to switch to Apple's platform.

Another anecdote in the interview covers Apple's early exploration of a phone. Fadell and his team began conceptualizing an "iPod phone" that was an iPod with a phone module inside it. It was designed like an iPod with a click wheel for dialing, an idea that didn't work.

It looked like an iPod, but it had a phone, and you would select numbers through the same interface and so on. But if you wanted to dial a number it was like using a rotary dial. It sucked. We knew three months in that it wasn't going to work. Steve said, "Keep trying!" We tried everything. We tried for seven or eight months to get that thing to work. Couldn't do it. We added more buttons and it just became this gangly thing.

iphoneipodhybrid

A rendering of a prototype iPod/iPhone hybrid with a click wheel, based on information from a source familiar with Apple's designs at the time.

At the same time as the iPod phone was in development, Apple was also exploring the idea of a touchscreen Mac, leading to the idea of a virtual interface on a phone.

Steve's like, "Come over here!" I didn't know about this at the time, but he showed me a ping-pong table that was the first multi-touch screen. It was a ping-pong-sized table. It had a projector of a Mac on top of it, and you could interact with it. He said, "We're going to put that in an iPod!" "Steve, it's the size of a ping-pong table!"

Apple then began work on a multi-touch display and software that brought together elements from the Mac and the iPod, eventually leading to the development of the device that became the original iPhone.

The full transcript of Fadell's interview, which includes additional details on his early career, Nest, and Apple, can be read over at VentureBeat.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
61 months ago
Game changing move. Apple wouldn't have risen so high without iPod PC users
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago
"...and boy have we patented it."
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago

The creation story of the first iPhone and the reveal are so fascinating.

Unfortunately, future generations will take them for granted.

hem... current generation takes it for granted already.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago
I love reading stories like this. The lead up to the original iPhone is probably one of the most interesting stories of tech that has happened. Started out as giant table-sized multitouch device, then a large iPad-sized device, then a phone.

I hope we keep getting stories like this for years to come. The mystery of it is still awesome. :)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago
The creation story of the first iPhone and the reveal are so fascinating.

Unfortunately, future generations will take them for granted.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

PSA: Non-iPhone 12 Models Charge Super Slowly With MagSafe Charger

Friday October 23, 2020 4:11 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a new $39 MagSafe Charger that's meant to work with the magnets in the iPhone 12 Pro models to charge them up at a maximum of 15W. The MagSafe Charger is technically able to be used with older iPhones, but it's not a good idea because the charging with non-iPhone 12 devices is so slow. We did two tests with the iPhone XS Max, draining the...

MagSafe Charger Teardown Reveals Simple Design With Magnets and Charging Coil Encircling a Small Circuit Board

Friday October 23, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
iFixit has today shared a teardown of Apple's new MagSafe charger for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. An X-ray of the MagSafe charger courtesy of Creative Electron reveals the internal charging coil surrounded by a circular arrangement of magnets within the puck. The only seam that iFixit was able to leverage to open the device was where the white rubber circle meets the metal rim,...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

iFixit Shares Full iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Teardown Revealing Interchangeable Displays and Batteries

Saturday October 24, 2020 1:48 pm PDT by
After live streaming a teardown of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro earlier this week, iFixit today provided a more in-depth teardown that goes through all of the components in the new devices, revealing several similarities between the two. Early testing conducted by iFixit shows that the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro displays are interchangeable and can be swapped without issue, though the max...