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Report: Tony Fadell, iPod chief, to leave Apple post

The longtime Apple executive is set to leave the company, to be replaced by IBM's Mark Papermaster as head of Apple's iPod division, according to a report.

Tony Fadell
Apple's iPod chief, Tony Fadell, is getting ready to leave the company, according to a report.

Update 7:25 a.m. PST: Apple confirmed Tuesday morning that Fadell is stepping down, but says he plans to remain with the company as an adviser to CEO Steve Jobs.

One of the fathers of the iPod, Tony Fadell, is leaving Apple after seven years spent inside the division that changed the company's fortunes.

Fadell is to be replaced by former IBM executive Mark Papermaster, according to a report Monday night by The Wall Street Journal. CNET News first reported last week that Papermaster was set to leave IBM for a prominent position at Apple, although the nature of his role was unknown as of then.

It had been thought that Papermaster was set to assume a role leading chip design at Apple, given his status as one of IBM's mostly highly regarding experts on chip technology. However, according to the report he will now assume responsibility for Apple's music player division, which put Apple back on the map in the early part of this decade and continues to play a pivotal role in the company's fortunes.

The report said Fadell was leaving for personal reasons, but did not say what lay next for the Apple veteran. An Apple representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Fadell has been part of Apple's iPod group since 2001, as the inaugural member of the iPod engineering team, according to his official company bio. He was promoted to head of the division in 2006, succeeding Jon Rubenstein, and was credited by Fortune as the man behind the idea of a handheld music player combined with a digital music store.

During Fadell's tenure, the iPod grew from a curiosity into the profit engine that paved the way for Apple's renaissance in personal computers and its entry into mobile computing. The company sold 54.7 million iPods during its last fiscal year, which ended in September.

iPod growth has stagnated of late as saturation has arrived in the mature economies of the world. Still, Apple has held 70 percent market share in the U.S. for an awfully long time and shows no signs of giving up any ground.