‘Father of the iPod’ Tony Fadell shows off his new project: Thermostats

Tony Fadell has defied skeptics before. Ten years ago, when a slick gadget he conceived and helped to build hit the market, most analysts shrugged, saying the new tech toy would be irrelevant to most people. The prediction ranks among to top bloopers in the history of tech punditry. Fadell’s gadget, the iPod, sold more than 300 million units and, in the process, revolutionized the music industry,” Miguel Helft reports for Fortune.

“Now Fadell, who has been called the “father of the iPod,” is hoping to prove skeptics wrong one more time. After leading the team that built the iPod and playing a key role in the development of the iPhone, Fadell left his executive role at Apple in 2008,” Helft reports. “For the past two years, he has been hard at work quietly building a new electronic gadget. Like the iPod, it is controlled through a simple dial. And like the iPod, it’s likely to be greeted with skepticism. It is, after all, a thermostat.”

“But if the iPod was no ordinary music player, the thermostat built by Nest Labs, Fadell’s startup, is nothing like the drab plastic devices that control heating and air conditioning in millions of American homes. For starters, the device, which is being introduced on Tuesday and will be available in mid-November, has the kind of elegant, minimalist design that Fadell learned while working for his former boss, Steve Jobs,” Helft reports. “More important, just like the iPhone made cellphones smart, Nest wants to bring intelligence to thermostats: the device programs itself based on your daily routines and the temperatures you set. It constantly refines itself, senses your comings and goings to adjust accordingly, and automatically turns itself off when you are away.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. Don’t think that would happen. He’s likely got everything a world class designer could want at Apple. The only thing that would push him out is clashes with Scott Forstall.

  1. Interesting thing indeed.

    But, to be fair, to call Fadell ‘father of iPod’ is exaggeration similar to calling Xerox inventors fathers of Macintosh or Fingerworks scientists fathers of iPhone.

    1. Check your history. Faddell was far more instrumental to the development of the iPod than you understand. Without his contributions, the original iPod would never have gone from concept to market in just nine months. I suggest that you read The Perfect Thing by Steven Levy. The book details how Faddell was crucial to the development of the iPod.

      For that matter, George Washington might not be called “The Father of Our Country” if everyone knew what Thomas Jefferson was doing in his spare time…

  2. Good, but out of date. Should be voice control based (like Siri), not click wheel based. iPod click wheel control was great, but becomes obsolete now. Just like all other phone OEMs vies for bigger screen after iPhone came out, Apple turn around and start voice assistance. Sooner screen size will be irrelevant since most of time people will listen and talk, not see and touch.

  3. He didn’t go the same way of Rubenstein and join a competitor, nor start a product line that’s an Apple ripoff. That’s showing respect, as he’s highly sought after, I’d think. Though, there might some sweet incentives/clauses involved with an exit contract from Apple, I’d like to think this is a genuinely driven guy with strong integrity in place.

  4. I just installed a $80 unit from Hunter – it may have a short history on my wall. This is very neat! Here again is a case where an old line company, Honeywell, may have missed the mark. Their premium thermostats are only available through dealers and must be dealer installed (protecting the sales chain is old hat) and not nearly as sophisticated as this unit. I am liking what I am reading and wish them great success.

  5. The article about this in the San Jose Mercury this morning mentions that they found that the device was kind of useless here in Silicon Valley because we do not have enough weather. So they had to test them in other areas of the country. My wife laughed when reading the SJ Mercury this morning. She thought they were kidding. We have a program thermostat now but for 9 months of the year we don’t use furnace or A/C. I don’t think it will sell in most of the Bay area. I suppose it might pay for itself in areas where the climate has wild swings. We will not be getting one, that is for sure.

    1. Weather isn’t quantifiable, thus to say one doesn’t have “enough weather” is meaningless. One can of course say one doesn’t experience variation in weather, or extremes in weather.

      That said, we get “plenty” of weather in Washington, as in variation and extremes. Today we’ve got a beautiful Fall day, and winter is but two months away. “If you don’t like the weather in Washington,” we say, “just wait a while; it’ll change soon enough.”

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