Bringing the iPod to the PC was one of the keys to making Apple’s breakthrough music player the ubiquitous mega-hit that it became. But, as with the decision to allow an App Store on iOS, then-CEO Steve Jobs wasn’t exactly on-board with the idea from the start.
In fact, according to a new interview with Nest CEO (and former Apple executive) Tony Fadell, it virtually turned into a “knock-down, drag-out” battle between the pro-PC camp at Apple and Jobs.
Until Walt Mossberg, of all people, managed to break the deadlock.
“It took two and a half years,” Fadell told Kevin Surace, CEO of Appvance and chairman of the nonprofit SV Forum, during an on-stage interview last week.
“Every Mac owner bought [an iPod]. But there weren’t many Mac owners! Then, flatline. This is where the arm-wrestling happened with Steve. I had a team making it compatible with the PC and Steve’s like, “OVER MY DEAD BODY! Never! We need to sell Macs! This is going to be why people buy Macs!” I said, “Steve, the iPod is $399. But really it’s not. Because you have to buy a Mac!” We had to give people a taste.”
Fadell recalled that it was Phil Schiller who eventually voiced to Steve that it was crucial to get the iPod onto the PC. Jobs agreed — but only on the condition that the PC version of iTunes was first put through its paces by his favorite tech reviewer, Walt Mossberg, who would help make the final call.
“We’re going to build these and run it by Mossberg,” Jobs reportedly said. “And if Mossberg says it’s good enough to ship, then we’ll ship it.”
Fadell says that Jobs, “wanted to divorce himself from having to make the decision,” but once Mossberg gave Steve his blessing, the iPod was successfully brought to the PC in October 2003.
The rest of Fadell’s wide-ranging interview is well worth a read: touching on everything from his early days at General Magic (founded by numerous members of the former Mac team), to his stint at Apple, and his work at Nest. You can check it out here.