Fadell, 43, wants to do for thermostats what he did for music players as a designer at Apple: Make them smart, sleek, and easy to use. "They're ugly," Fadell says of traditional models. Adds Fadell, who was confronted by thermostats' shortcomings while designing his home in Lake Tahoe a few years ago: "They're hard to use. And they generate a lot of cost. It makes no sense at all." He and fellow Apple (Fortune 500) alum Matt Rogers launched their first "learning thermostat" in 2011 -- a $250 self-programming device that proved so easy to install that 90% of customers do it themselves. The product has won rave reviews and, according to Fadell, is selling as well as the iPod in its early days. ,
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