When Apple quietly pulled the iPod classic from its online store the day of the iPhone 6 event earlier this month, it meant the last iPod click wheel from Apple had finally been retired in place of touch screens and voice input. Tony Fadell, CEO of Google-acquired Nest Labs who is most known for his work in the iPod division at Apple through late 2008, spoke with Fast Company to discuss the death of the last click wheel iPod:
“I’m sad to see it go,” Fadell admits in a phone interview. “The iPod’s been a huge part of my life for the last decade. The team that worked on the iPod poured literally everything into making it what it was.” [...] “Products just don’t come around like that often,” laments Fadell. “The iPod was one-in-a-million.”
Tony Fadell, of course, left Apple long before the company sent the last iPod with a touch wheel out to sea.
Fadell left Apple in late 2008 shortly after the iPhone’s release in mid-2007. Nest Labs, which makes the connected Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector, was founded by Fadell in 2010 and bought by Google in 2014 for $3.2 billion.
According to Fadell, Apple was thinking about what would kill the iPod as early as 2003:
“It was inevitable something would take its place. You know, in 2003 or 2004, we started asking ourselves what would kill the iPod,” Fadell says. “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.”
For context, the last iPod classic released came out in late 2007 which minor revisions following for two years. The same model introduced in 2009 remained on sale through 2014.
Aside from nostalgia for the old click wheel model, the iPod classic did have one thing going for it: 160GB of local storage for holding your iTunes collection. Apple hasn’t yet replaced the iPod with something in this space (the largest iPod touch is still 64GB), but the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models come close with 128GB models.