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
104 months ago
Game changing move. Apple wouldn't have risen so high without iPod PC users
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
surfingarbo Avatar
104 months ago
"...and boy have we patented it."
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacFather Avatar
104 months ago
Deleted.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yaxomoxay Avatar
104 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
104 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
104 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 car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:05 am PST by
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees working on the Apple Car that the project was canceled,...
General Apps Messages

iOS 17.4 to Add This 'Groundbreaking' New Messaging Feature

Friday February 23, 2024 5:05 am PST by
With iOS 17.4, set to arrive in March 2024, Apple is bringing a new cryptographic security feature to iMessage called PQ3. This "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks," according to Apple. Let's break down what that means. Apple's iMessage service already supports end-to-end encryption, but security...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Coming Soon With These New Features for Your iPhone

Monday February 26, 2024 6:08 am PST by
In a press release last month, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU, Apple Podcasts transcripts, and an iMessage security upgrade. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

iOS 18 Rumored to Be Compatible With These iPhone Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:31 am PST by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and thereby also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. The post was spotted by MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris, and it has since been deleted. However, this was likely because the...
applearcade

Game Developers Describe 'Smell of Death' Around Apple Arcade

Monday February 26, 2024 7:24 am PST by
Some game developers are dissatisfied with Apple Arcade amid concerns about the subscription service's future, a new report claims. Sources speaking to mobilegamer.biz described a "smell of death" around Apple's games subscription service and noted the difference between the company's investment in TV and music, and its interest in games. "At the very top of the company there needs to be a ...