Whether it’s smartwatches or smart speakers, Apple rarely rushes to be the first company to move into a new product category. But once Apple’s decided to commit, it moves pretty darn quickly — as an iPod anecdote shared (indirectly) by former Apple exec Tony Fadell makes clear.
In a tweet made by the CEO of Stripe, Patrick Collison, Tony “Podfather” Fadell reveals the timeline of the original iPod. And it was pretty mind-blowingly intensive.
I asked Tony Fadell about the iPod timeline for my fast project page. Summary: ?. pic.twitter.com/mf0CfbAEtB
— Patrick Collison (@patrickc) January 12, 2020
As Fadell revealed, he first pitched Steve Jobs on the iPod in March 2001. Jobs gave him the go-ahead at that meeting. In May, he hired the first team member for the project. And by November, the first iPods were shipping to customers. That’s impressive by any metric.
Today, something like this probably wouldn’t be feasible. Apple can still move impressively quickly given its size. But it also has to be able to deliver far more units of a product on day one. The iPod was a massive juggernaut-sized hit for Apple in the early 2000s. If Apple’s biggest product today did those same numbers, Apple stock would plummet. On top of that, Apple today has to not only release new products, but yearly incremental upgrades of more than half a dozen product lines. That’s before you start even adding a new product to the mix.
Nonetheless, those of us who count ourselves as Apple fans should be pleased that Tony Fadell and others worked as hard as they did in 2001. Without the iPod, Apple today would be a very, very different company.