What iPod inventor Tony Fadell says he learned from Steve Jobs
The titanic, albeit controversial legacy of late Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs drew renewed interest this week when the tech giant became the first company to reach a market capitalization of $3 trillion.
The feat owes in no small part to the development of the iPod and iPhone — both overseen by Jobs — which shaped the behavior of billions of people across the globe in how they listen to music and connect with loved ones.
In a new interview, former Apple engineer Tony Fadell — who’s credited with inventing the iPod and helping design the iPhone — tells Yahoo Finance that Jobs taught him how to anticipate and serve a customer’s wishes.
Plus, Jobs brought his passion for music and artists into his work, prioritizing creators and their compensation as he pursued business ventures, Fadell said. In that vein, Jobs would want to “fix” the lack of pay for musical artists on streaming services if he were alive today, Fadell added.
“It was all about in the music store — not iPod — it was always about: What do the customers really want?” Fadell says.
“What is going to give them that social or that emotional experience that they crave — that they want?” he adds. “A rational part of that [is] making it simple.”
Jobs, who was fired in 1985 from his role as the head of a team developing Apple’s Macintosh computer, rejoined Apple as CEO in 1997 after its acquisition of his software company NeXT.
Meanwhile, Fadell worked at Apple spin-off company General Magic for four years designing hand-held communication devices until he moved to Dutch electronic company Philips, where he served as chief technology office of its Mobile Computing Group.
Fadell joined Apple as a consultant in 2001, proposing the idea for the iPod and leading its development as a staff engineer. In the ensuing years, he helped create the iPhone under the oversight of Jobs.
Fadell now serves as a board member at Dice, an app-based ticket sale platform. The London-based company, founded in 2014, built a platform that combines in-app ticket sales with social features that track users’ tastes and those of their friends.
Steve Jobs gestures during his keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco on January 7, 2003. REUTERS/Lou Dematteis
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Fadell noted that Jobs would take issue with the lack of compensation provided to musical artists by streaming services. Platforms like Spotify (SPOT) and Apple Music have faced a growing backlash from artists over what they consider insufficient pay for the music on their products.
“When you see something like this, you’re like, ‘Wow, I think that if Steve was here, today, he would go, we need to get artists more money,'” Fadell says.
“I know how much he loved musicians, bands, and wanted to support them,” he adds. “I remember way back when he was looking at buying certain media companies — that kind of stuff — because he really wanted to revolutionize that.”
“So as far as I’m concerned, if he woke up today and saw the streaming services the way they are today, and where the artists are not getting fairly paid, he would fix that,” Fadell says. “Absolutely”