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Apple creates separate iPod business unit

Expects big things from little player

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Apple has spun off its iPod into a division of its own, separating the portable music player from the company's Mac hardware operation.

The restructure will see former hardware engineering chief Jon Rubenstein take charge of the iPod business. Timothy Cook, until now the company's worldwide sales and operations chief, will oversee the entire Mac business, with Tim Bucher, previously responsible for Mac system development, now taking on Rubenstein's Mac hardware engineering role.

The move is significant as it sets the iPod up as a Macintosh peer product rather than as a subsidiary one. The success of the player has brought Apple fortune; and like the Mac, the iPod has become a platform for peripheral software and hardware products in its own right.

Rubenstein has spearheaded Mac hardware development since 1997. He joined Apple from FirePower, but he was well known to CEO Steve Jobs thanks to his time as NeXT's head of hardware. No wonder Jobs wanted Rubenstein back when, after Apple acquired NeXT, he was able to wrest the CEO's chair from former incumbent Gil Amelio.

Rubenstein's seniority shows the importance of the iPod in Apple's thinking, and his reassignment is a sign that the company is likely to expand the product line.

HP is expected to offer an own-branded version of the iPod this summer. ®

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