Tony Fadell on Design, Curiosity, and Developing the iPod

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

In a video from the 99U ConferenceScott Belsky interviews Tony Fadell, winner of the Behance ALVA Award for his innovative work. Fadell, an engineer and inventor, oversaw the evolution of the iPod at Apple and is currently the CEO of Nest Labs, which created the Nest Learning Thermostat. In this talk, he breaks down the creative process of developing a new product and the importance of setting constraints and milestones. "You can't listen to the experts all the time," Fadell explains. "Sometimes the experts will tell you 'no:'"

I built a prototype for the iPod -- early days -- and I had this crazy idea for how to make a very fast hard drive and a really low-power music player, using this chip and making it ... very very cost effective. And I looked at everything, and I prototyped it, and I go, "It seems like it's working! It looks like it's working fine," but I really didn't know enough about this protocol, this certain thing. So I said, "I'm going to call in an expert." So I call an expert from another part of Apple, who had never seen the product because it was super secret, and they came over, and I described what I was trying to do, and I talked about why I thought it worked ... and the expert goes, "That'll never work! It'll absolutely never work! This is crazy. It's the stupidest idea I've ever heard." And I say, "Well, it's right here! It works. It's working just fine." And that guy stormed off in a huff, and literally a few months later we shipped the iPod.

For more videos from the 99U Conference, visit http://the99percent.com/.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/tony-fadell-on-design-curiosity-and-developing-the-ipod/258341/