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Apple's iPod chief to step down - report

Tony Fadell, largely regarded as the grandfather of the iPod and Apple's audio strategy, is leaving the company for personal reasons, according to a report published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

Apple declined to comment on the story, but the financial paper cited people familiar with the matter as saying the executive will be replaced by Mark Papermaster, a top chip designer recently recruited from IBM among much controversy.

Fadell joined Apple as the first member of its iPod hardware engineering team in 2001 and was promoted to vice president of iPod engineering in 2004. He's served as the senior vice president of Apple's iPod division since April 2006.

Back in the 1990s, Fadell started a company called Fuse, which aimed to produce a new array of consumer electronics devices for the masses. One such product was a hard disk-based digital music player.

When Fuse ran out of funding, Fadell explored the possibility of developing his gadgets for another company. He initially joined RealNetworks in 2000, but left just six weeks later. The next company he approached was Apple.

While presiding over the iPod boom, Fadell was also instrumental in the development of the first iPhone and oversaw other smaller products during his tenure at the company, including the iSight.

Fadell's big break came on October 14, 2005, when Apple announced that he would replace the retiring Jon Rubinstein as Senior Vice President of the iPod Division.

Fadell has filed more than 20 patents for his work, several of which have been covered (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) by AppleInsider.

According to the Journal, Fadell plans to take time off after leaving Apple but may still keep a role at the company as a consultant.