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CNET News Video: Daily Debrief: Father of the iPod steps down

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CNET News Video: Daily Debrief: Father of the iPod steps down

4:45 /

As the man considered the father of Apple's iPod steps down, it becomes clear why the company was eager to hire Mark Papermaster, an IBM chip designer. On this Daily Debrief, CNET's Kara Tsuboi and Tom Krazit discuss the reasoning behind the move and why a consumer product company like Apple would want a guy with server experience heading up their lucrative iPod division.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Kara: Welcome to the Daily Debrief, I'm CNET's Kara Tsuboi here with CNET's news Writer Tom Krazit and last week Tom and I were talking about an IBM exec Mark Papermaster [assumed spelling] who was leaving IBM to move to Apple and we didn't know why but we're speculating it may have something to do with chip design since this man is an expert in chip design. Well, today we know why he's going to Apple and I'll let Tom explain that new role. >> Tom: Sure, well Apple has officially announced the hiring of Mark Papermaster who was formerly the Vice President of Blade Server development at IBM and before that one of their big chip experts. He is going to be taking on the role as the leader of the iPod and iPhone hardware engineering division. He's going to be replacing Tony Fidel [assumed spelling] a long time Apple executive who's stepping down, the company said for personal reasons. Fidel is largely credited as the man behind the idea of the iPod. >> Kara: What is attributed to this little minor shake-up within Apple's, obviously, very high-profile division? >> Tom: Well, it's not totally clear, I mean, ya know, he -- both Fidel and his wife are stepping down from Apple and, ya know, again, for personal reasons, we don't know exactly what's going on there, but I do think it comes at an interesting time in the history of the iPod and the development of the iPod. I mean, ya know, for 6, 7 years the iPod's been, for the most part, a relatively simple device, ya know, it's got storage, it's got a simple interface, it plays your songs, it plays your videos, that's all it pretty much does. But last year an interesting thing happened with the introduction of the iPod Touch, suddenly the iPod line is starting to look more and more like little computers. >> Kara: Absolutely >> Tom: Ya know, the sophistication of iPods appear set to grow over the next 5 years or so and it seems that Apple wanted to make sure that as that happened they had a guy who's experienced in chip design and system design, which is exactly what Papermaster is. I mean, it's interesting because his experience is in a server company not a mobile device company, I mean -- >> Kara: Right >> Tom: he's going through like some of the biggest things the computer industry makes to some of the smallest things the computer industry makes. But, ya know, I mean a lot of the principles and the concepts are still the same, ya know, if you're focused, like he was recently focused on Blade Server development, which is all about energy efficiency and which is all about, ya know, getting enough performance into as small a space as you can, I mean it's a bigger space than a phone but -- >> Kara: Yeah >> Tom: ya know still the concept is energy efficiency and performance and, ya know, that looks like what he's gonna be doing for Apple. >> Kara: Absolutely, these concepts are relatively easy transferable to a new gadget, new system. >> Tom: Relatively, yeah, I mean, ya know, I think this really does confirm our thought from last week that Apple is deadly serious about doing its own chip design -- >> Kara: Sure >> Tom: and making sure that it designs, ya know, the central components of -- the future of the iPhone and the future of the iPod Touch and whatever devices spring out from a family of those groups. >> Kara: Now, I'm sure what Apple would never really cop to is was this indeed a passing of the torch from Fidel to Papermaster or was Fidel somewhat asked to step down, because he is going to be staying with Apple, at least for the time being. >> Tom: Yeah, always the classic question, pushed or jump, so, ya know, and it's a little bit early right now to really get a read on that. >> Kara: Sure >> Tom: I mean, but I do have a feeling it was a little bit of both. I mean, I have a feeling that, ya know, Fidel had been there a long time and it had, ya know, really cemented his place in the history of the company and even the industry, it's not like he had much left to prove but we are at this turning point in the history of the iPod where Steve and some of the other executives might have thought that someone with a different set of skills was needed to really take it to the next level. >> Kara: And on one final detail we've not touched on is the lawsuit that IBM is bringing against Papermaster for violating his non-compete clause, has anything moved forward with that? >> Tom: No, I spoke with IBM this morning and they are not really adding much to what they said last week, if you don't recall, IBM is suing Mark Papermaster under the clause of his non-compete agreement with IBM that said he could not take a job with a competitor. >> Kara: Yeah >> Tom: Now that we know exactly what Papermaster is doing it might be harder for IBM to pursue this suit because as we know IBM doesn't exactly have an iPod or an iPhone so, ya know, it might change things in that regard, it might not though because we're still talking about chip design and there is the possibility that one day IBM could get into mobile chip development. We'll have to see that's still a wait and see kind of thing. >> Kara: And, of course, as a man with a lot of expertise moving into Apple's highest money making division of the company you can see why IBM perhaps has some secrets they want to guard. >> Tom: Absolutely, ya know, I mean this is a very high-profile role for Mark and it's gonna be interesting to see how it evolves. >> Kara: Thank you very much, CNET news Writer Tom Krazit, I'm Kara Tsuboi we'll see you on the next Daily Debrief. ^E00:04:44

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