The contested decisions of Steve Jobs at Apple: The tongue is loose …

After Jony Ive, it’s Tony Fadell who tells about Steve Jobs in a book he wrote himself. The father of the iPod and the founder of Nest talks about Steve Jobs’ few contested decisions in the days of the iPod and the first iPhone.

The contested decisions of Steve Jobs at Apple: The tongue is loose ...
First iPhone // Source: Mathieu Improvisato

It’s the season of indiscretions. This week a long awaited book was published, After Steve: How Apple became a trillion-dollar company and lost its soul. We were thus able to discover the reasons why Jony Ive, Apple’s legendary chief designer, left his company.

Another book was also very interesting, that is the book Barley (25 euros on Amazon), which tells the story of Tony Fadell’s 30 years of work (the father of the iPod) in companies in Silicon Valley (he is also the founder of Nest, bought by Google). But what’s of interest here is the interview with CNBC reporter Jon Fortt, who had the chance to chat with Tony Fadell.

+@tfadellRede @madebygoogle Founder & #BARLEY Author: A Fort Knox Conversation

– Jon Fortt (@jonfortt) May 4, 2022

iPod for Mac files only

Tony Fadell was recruited in 2001 by Apple, his mission was to help the company develop its musical strategy. This was just before the announcement of the iPod and iTunes when the first MP3 players hit the market. Apple wanted to bring its vision to this market with an easy-to-use device, good battery life, fast data synchronization and the ability to store 1000 songs.

The contested decisions of Steve Jobs at Apple: The tongue is loose ...
One of the iPod versions // Source: Jeremy Bezanger

First decision that has been much debated: the use of the FireWire standard instead of USB on the iPod. The reason was simple: the USB standard at the time only supported 12 Mbps data transfer rate compared to 1000 Mbps at the time. By comparison, the current USB 4 supports speeds of up to 40 Gbps.

Unfortunately, the first two generations of iPods were only compatible with Macs. For Windows users, it was imperative to go through a Mac to transfer songs to an iPod. Tony Fadell was opposed to this idea, “We need to make sure it works with Windows»,«never in my lifereplied Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs wanted the iPod to be a reason to switch to the Mac … Tony Fadell even contacted the famous journalist Walt Mossberg, a friend of Steve Jobs’s, to try to convince the founder of Apple. It took a few years to see iTunes land on Windows and iPod support.

Opening iPhone for third-party apps

The other controversial decision by Steve Jobs, mentioned by Tony Fadell in the interview, is the opening of the iPhone to third-party apps. The first iPhone did not have an App Store, the first installation of the iPhone OS came with preloaded apps … and that’s it. But at the time, Windows Mobile or Symbian already allowed the installation of third-party apps.

For its first versions of the iPhone OS, Apple had instead chosen to develop web applications running via Safari. It was Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO and board member of Apple, who pushed this idea … he primarily wanted to allow Google to take advantage of the iPhone’s ecosystem. The iPhone was already sold with Google as the default search engine, it also had Google Maps and YouTube preloaded.

The contested decisions of Steve Jobs at Apple: The tongue is loose ...
App Store // Source: James Yarema on Unsplash

Finally, after the launch of the first two iPhones, whose success was relative, Steve Jobs in the App Store saw a way to lock people into the ecosystem. This App Store was also a factor in the success of the iPhone as we know it today.

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