Apple isn’t making an electric car…
Look, I know it sounds great. I know there’s a lot of intrigue around everything Apple does; and, in full disclosure, I purposefully read tech blogs daily just so I can see if there’s a scoop on something Apple is doing.
But, think about it. Really think about it. Does this really sound like something Apple would do? There’s too many variables. Shape, color, manufacturing buildings, lots and lots of workers, safety, policies, and much much more. Would Apple really take THAT big of a risk?
What’s humorous to me is reading all these articles about new buildings they’ve acquired and are supposedly building their secret new car out of them. Really? Have you seen the pictures of the “buildings”? They look like over glorified office buildings for a mom and pop hardware store (granted one of the buildings had, at one time, been used by Pepsi).
And take a clue from the pictures of the supposed “Apple Cars” that they are using. They look like normal every day cars. Nothing special or exotic about them.
What makes sense…
What makes more sense is Apple making a car accessory or teaming up with a car manufacturer to create something that would be tightly integrated into the vehicle. I’ll explain how I get to that before explaining what I think it will be.
Apple has never done anything that would be as risky as this. They’ve always carefully and strategically entered a new space and done so with usually surgical precision.
For instance, we’ve rumored for years that Apple was building a TV. “This will be the year” or “now it’s time” have been common sayings over the years. But, what we’ve seen is they have bypassed all the hassle of building different models of TVs with different resolutions and built a TV accessory: Apple TV. A platform that they can build and scale off of that can be widely available and appealing to the masses.
Think about how hard it would be for Apple to gain a foothold in the living room if you have to buy this big honking TV and wag it back to your home. Instead you purchase a 2 pound device that works with any TV and you get premium and personal content on it. Instead of paying $900 to $2000 for a TV, you purchase a $149 to $199 device that is small enough to fit just about anywhere.
That’s always been Apple’s model: build a polished product that appeals to the masses and can disrupt the natural order of things so they can get a piece of the pie.
I’ve followed Apple very closely for years. I often know more about their products than the people who work for them. And, building themselves into a car company would be a huge path out of the norm for them.
The future of the car
I believe whatever Apple is designing will be much different than we think it will be. Something that could go on just about any car/vehicle or be integrated into new vehicles that would give that car/vehicle “abilities” (Think, “Apple Car Edition” of a model of a car). Now, what do I mean by that? Perhaps it gives the vehicle the ability to have autopilot. Or, it could involve some sort of next generation maps service (which might make sense because they haven’t really updated the maps app for some time) and have the ability to integrate tightly with Siri for directions and autopilot. It might also give you the ability to have full control over your vehicle simply from your iPhone. I can see now Jony Ive pitching how tightly the “Apple System” integrates with the vehicle’s basic hardware so that you have full control over it. Perhaps giving you the ability to see your car’s “stats”, such as gas mileage, driving mileage, ignition, heated seats, etc.
Perhaps, it will include some sort of monitoring service that is tied back to Apple’s data center (think of Find Friends on a much larger and complex scale). Taking advantage of all those data centers across the US.
I do, however, believe it will have something to do with an electric car. But, to what degree is unknown. Again, Apple is concerned about the future, as well as, appealing to the masses. Expect the car to be different. And in a specific area unknown to us now, it will probably be very different and even potentially off-putting to certain people for that specific area or feature. For instance, when the iPhone first came out, it was a huge negative to some people that you had to use your fingers.
This would make more sense: working with an established car company. And, we’ve already seen them partner with automakers before. When coming out with Apple CarPlay, they worked closely with several car companies to ensure their product would work and be a selling point. By this model, they would not have the cost and overhead associated with manufacturing and producing such a vehicle that has thousands of parts but would be able to tightly integrate.
Now, I could be wrong about that. Apple usually plays very tightly with hardware and software; controlling everything. But, it just doesn’t seem feasible to build such an infrastructure from scratch on such a competitive landscape.
They’ve already proven that Apple CarPlay can integrate into other cars without hassle. I can totally see their next move being one of scaling off the already proven CarPlay system. Giving their customers an “easy” way to add features they currently don’t have (assuming it’s an accessory). Or, integrating with the car and giving futuristic features all through Apple’s system (assuming they partner with a car company).
What I would focus on is which one of the car companies has been oddly silent. Which ones would be able to build an Apple Car Edition of their vehicle that would be able to scale with Apple and be able to deliver on the quality look and feel, as well as, polished look Apple is so famous for.
In either case, it will definitely be something that will change the game. Apple never does anything if it can’t disrupt the segment it goes into. Perhaps that’s why Tesla bashed them publicly and are now throwing features at their cars.