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When Apple launched the iPod Touch in 2001, it was a revolutionary invention.
It wasn’t the first mp3 player on the market, nor was the iPhone the first smartphone after it, but the unique design was just the push needed to move digital music away from cassettes, CDs and pirated digital copies.
The music industry was clearly losing the battle against illegal file sharing, and the launch of iTunes, which allowed up to a thousand tracks of music to be downloaded to the iPod, allowed Apple to stay afloat on music revenue.
“You’ll never listen to music the same again with the iPod,” the late Steve Jobs said at a presentation in October 2001. And he turned out to be absolutely right.
Two decades later, the Apple Music streaming service has more than 90 million tracks.
iPods have come in many forms over the years, but this week the company decided to discontinue the iPod Touch, the last model released back in 2007 and updated three years ago.
The iPod Touch was conceived by the same team of inventors and engineers as the iPhone, which quickly eclipsed its predecessor.
The author of the idea was Tony Fadell. BBC Radio 4 presenters asked him how he reacted to the news that the iPod would no longer be sold.
Tony Fadell: I’ve been in the tech industry long enough to know that technology never stops moving. It’s important to me to realize that the iPod was one of the cornerstones of Apple, along with iTunes and the Mac, which made the company what it is today. Yes, he is gone, but he will never be forgotten.
BBC BBC: You wrote – in your book and not only – that engineers should start working on design not with the question “how”, but “why”. What was the answer to the question “why” in the case of the iPod?
T.F.: It was important that everyone loves music. This is the first. And usually people want to have a much wider selection of music with them than what they can physically carry. It’s about a thousand songs in your pocket. That was the transformation and that was the answer to that question.
BBC BBC: How hard did Steve Jobs insist that you join Apple in 2001? You then doubted whether it was worth it.
T.F.: Times were different. Then I had my own company, and things were not going very well for her. But Apple was also not very successful, and by that time I had already spent 10 years on projects that went bankrupt. Therefore, going to work at Apple was not an easy decision for me. And then I said to Steve: I know that we can create this product, but how are we going to sell it and advertise it? Because I’ve had this exact problem in the past. And Steve said: “If you create this product, I will make sure that the whole world knows about it.” He convinced me that we will not only create something great, we will make sure that the world knows about it and buys it.