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

LIVEFRMNYC Avatar
84 months ago
Game changing move. Apple wouldn't have risen so high without iPod PC users
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
surfingarbo Avatar
84 months ago
"...and boy have we patented it."
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacFather Avatar
84 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yaxomoxay Avatar
84 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)
Slix Avatar
84 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)
levitynyc Avatar
84 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)

Popular Stories

Apple Watch Series 7 Starlight Midnight

Standard Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature Same Design as Series 7

Friday August 5, 2022 7:46 am PDT by
The standard 41mm and 45mm models of the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature the same design as the Apple Watch Series 7, according to Twitter user @ShrimpApplePro, who was first to reveal that iPhone 14 Pro models would feature a new pill-and-hole display. Titanium will not be an option for the standard Apple Watch Series 8 models either, according to @ShrimpApplePro, but Bloomberg's Mark...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

Five iPhone 14 Rumors You May Have Missed

Thursday August 4, 2022 6:05 am PDT by
With August upon us, the countdown is officially on. We're just weeks away from when we're expecting Apple to announce the iPhone 14 lineup. Rumors of the next iPhone start early in the year, and as a result, some details about the upcoming device sometimes get lost in the crowd. Exclusive MacRumors iPhone 14 Pro renders by graphic designer Ian Zelbo To help MacRumors readers, we've created a ...
oneplus 10t and iphone 13 pro

Camera Comparison: The New OnePlus 10T vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Wednesday August 3, 2022 8:30 am PDT by
Android-based smartphone company OnePlus today announced the launch of its newest device, the OnePlus 10T, which we were able to check out ahead of time. The OnePlus 10T, priced starting at $649, boasts upgraded camera technology, so we thought we'd pit it against the iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how it measures up. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The OnePlus 10T...
banish safari app pop ups

New iOS App Blocks Those Annoying 'Open in App' Pop-Ups in Safari

Friday August 5, 2022 2:47 am PDT by
You've probably experienced visiting a website like Reddit or LinkedIn on your iPhone only to be greeted with an annoying, almost full-screen pop-up urging you to view the content in their app instead of on the website. It's a common practice for websites that have accompanying iOS apps to push users to open (if they already have the app installed) or download their app from the App Store to ...
apple watch series 7 titanium

Apple Watch Edition Begins Selling Out Ahead of Series 8 Launch

Tuesday August 2, 2022 7:55 am PDT by
Apple Watch Edition models are beginning to sell out just weeks before the Apple Watch Series 8 lineup is expected to be announced. Several of the high-end Apple Watch Series 7 models with titanium casings are listed as "currently unavailable" on Apple's online store in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and select other countries. In the United States, availability of 41mm...