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Tuesday, October 07, 2008, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)

Apple co-founder believes iPod has about run its course

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak this week likened the iPod to a fad whose days atop the consumer electronics market are numbered while lamenting the limitations of the iPhone 3G, for which he'd like to write certain applications but can't due to restrictions.

"The iPod has sort of lived a long life at number one," he told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview. "Things like that, if you look back to transistor radios and Walkmans, they kind of die out after a while."

Woz, who retired from the daily grind at Apple more than 20 years ago, says the media players are approaching a saturation point where "everyone has got one or two or three." It gets to the point, he adds, where they "get real cheap," become omnipresent, and don't sell as well as a result.

He also spoke out about the direction Apple has chose for the iPhone, specifically the limitations the company has imposed on developers, which, in his opinion, stifle innovation.

"Consumers aren't getting all they want when companies are very proprietary and lock their products down," he said, arguing in favor of Google's open approach to the Android platform that offers developers more freedom. "I would like to write some more powerful apps than what you're allowed."

Woz is also hesitant to embrace the cult following that Apple has managed to achieve. While it may provide some shelter during times of economic recession — given that loyalists are likely to remain devoted in their purchase decisions — it also stands in opposition to change.

"I would like to have the users influence the next generation," he said. "With a religion you're not allowed to challenge anything. I want our customers to challenge us."

Woz, who is consider naming his child Zowoz "because it's a palindrome," offhandedly remarked that Apple's next big thing could be an "iWatch," claiming that nobody, including chief executive Steve Jobs, really has the foresight into the next blockbuster gadget.

"I think he would be sitting there [unaware] right up until the day it is introduced," he said of Jobs.

In his interview with The Telegraph, Woz also sides with analysts who've recently downgraded Apple stock and predicts that Web 2.0 and social networking websites could be in a for a mini version of the dotcom crash that erased $5 trillion in market cap near the turn of the century.