What A Disruptive Apple Car Would Look Like
As Tim Cook once pointed out, Apple only enters markets where it can make a significant contribution and control key elements of the design, manufacturing and distribution. If we apply that thinking to the disruptive car that everyone expects Apple to develop, here are my predictions for the Apple car.
Lets Define the Car
Cars are simultaneously the most ubiquitous, the most personal and the most shared of devices. People’s love affair with their car is one of the most enduring of relationships.
It is a haven for some personal entertainment during the daily commute. It is even the entertainment system itself. It is a seat in a personalized coffee shop. It is a segue from one place to another and it helps set the mood for when you arrive at your destination!
Cars are a shared experience with other passengers since the passengers participate in the same entertainment and in the same journey.
Unlike our phones, computers, and smart watches, cars are also devices that we let others borrow.
The car is an extension of your home as you go from experience to experience and it is an extension of your office as you go from meeting to meeting or between home and office.
Apple’s challenge is to make the Apple Car an extension of your daily life in the same way that your iPhone and your Apple Watch are. And that is the sweet sauce that only Apple can add to the car!
The Car As A Device
The Apple car will be personal, autonomous, and fun to drive.
As you approach the Apple car it will awaken, recognize you by your Apple watch or iPhone, and unlock your door. It will recognize your passengers by their iPhone or Apple Watch. Seats will adjust themselves and warm to your preferences. The music or podcast on your phone will hand off seamlessly. There is no need for a built-in radio, CD player or other trappings of the 20th century.
Apple will not eliminate the dashboard but it will re-define it. The dashboard will consist of a software configurable curved wrap-around touch-screen. It will extend to the side doors so that useful information can be seen by any passenger. The entertainment system, locks, and window controls will also be available via Siri, the iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. If a passenger wants to change what is playing, for example, the display closest to the passenger will indicate current choices and operations.
The car will be self-driving. Mirrors, a drag on the aerodynamics of the car, will be eliminated. All views around the outside of the car will be projected from cameras onto the dashboard. Driver assist, a radar system, will ensure that the driver never purposefully merges into another car.
As you enter the cabin the Apple Car will display a map and recommend a route to your destination. You will have a choice of engaging Siri to drive for you or to drive the car yourself.
Seats will swivel for face-to-face engagement and they will have holders for iPads or iPhones. Cabin lights will lighten as passengers enter and dim for driving.
By convention, and for legal reasons, the front left seat will be the “driver’s” seat for manual driving unless you are in a country where the controls are in the right seat. The steering wheel will be tucked away unless in manual mode in which case it will unfold.
What does Apple do with all of its inventions? It distills it to its most basic elements. Provides software-controlled elements for flexibility. Tightly integrates the software with the hardware.
Apple’s latest product, the Apple Watch is a perfect example of that design philosophy. Unlike other wearables the Apple Watch is clean, almost minimalist, software expandable, even hardware (wrist band) expandable and it integrates well with the iPhone.
Expect the same from the Apple Car.