Father Of The IPod, Tony Fadell, Says The IPod Was Born To Die

Apple recently discontinued the iPod Classic, a move that marks the beginning of the end for Apple’s standalone media player.

While it’s sad to see the iconic click wheel fade away, according to Tony Fadell, one of the fathers of the iPod, Apple’s revolutionary music player was always expected to be replaced.

Fadell oversaw the original iPod’s creation as Apple’s senior vice president until leaving the company in 2008 to found Nest.

“It was inevitable something would take its place. You know, in 2003 or 2004, we started asking ourselves what would kill the iPod,” Fadell said in an interview with Fast Company. “And even back then, at Apple, we knew it was streaming. We called it the ‘celestial jukebox in the sky.’ And we have that now: music in the cloud.”

Fadell and the team at Apple were right; streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora quickly made device storage less important as people could stream as many songs as they like. Click wheels were traded for multitouch screens, and once the iPhone debuted in 2007, there was no longer a need for people to separate their music from their phone.

But for Fadell, that’s how the rapid progression of the tech industry works, and while he is sad to watch the sunset on one of Apple’s most iconic designs, there’s always the next innovation to look forward to.

“I’ll miss the iPod. I loved it,” Fadell told Fast Company. “But you know, that’s just how it is. I also loved my Apple II, and also saw it come and go. You can’t get too nostalgic. I mean, there are people out there who still want the Commodore 64 or the Amiga to come back. That’s cute, but time marches on. It’s better to be excited for the future.”

For Fadell, the future isn’t in designing the next container for your music, but rather helping you sort through it all.

“Now that we all have access to all the music we could ever want, discoverability is the new Holy Grail,” Fadell said. “Using machine learning and AI to figure out context, so that the celestial jukebox knows the perfect song for every occasion.”

You can read Fadell’s entire interview over at Fast Company.

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