An established blogger covering Apple’s business claims the company’s iPod head pushed for the firm to use open source system Linux at the heart of the iPhone. The gossip has emerged in coverage of Tony Fadell’s departure from Apple.
The report comes from John Gruber, a writer whose Daring Fireball sites has run for six years and often appears in lists of the most respected tech blogs. Of course, that’s no guarantee his sources are 100 percent accurate, but his reports are certainly worthy of attention.
The new gossip appears as a footnote in Gruber’s coverage of former IBM executive Mark Papermaster taking over the iPod and iPhone hardware division for Apple from Tony Fadell (pictured), who oversaw the development of the iPod.
Gruber points out that Papermaster is taking over an expanded role and that Fadell actually had little to do with the iPhone. Writing on Wednesday, he argued that Fadell’s standing in the company was damaged by the success of the iPhone. That’s because he lost an argument with other executives who insisted the device should run on OS X, the same operating system as Macs.
In his original footnote to the piece, Gruber says he doesn’t know what other system Fadell argued should be used. He’s since updated it to add, “However, I now have a one-word answer from a knowledgeable source as to which OS Fadell wanted to use for the phone: Linux”
Several writers have pointed out just how unlikely this idea was to fly, particularly with Apple chief Steve Jobs. The open source licensing restrictions of Linux simply don’t fit in with Apple’s business model.
But the dispute shows how radical the iPhone’s final form was to some within the company: Fadell reportedly saw it as nothing more than an iPod which could make phone calls, a design which from a technical standpoint could have worked perfectly well with Linux.