Apple Car’s enterprise business (updated)

Thoughts on Apple Car, Part 85

Only in Tim Cook‘s reign at Apple has the company begun seriously conduct its enterprise business. Before Cook, it was somewhat counterculture at Apple to think in enterprise terms – this of course was rooted at the top, with Steve Jobs emotionally disliking the market:

What started with a historic deal with former arch enemy IBM, resulted in a expanding list of enterprise partners as well as specific offering for a market where Apple sees neat growth rates for some of its saturating consumer products:

iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch – enterprise pioneers

Besides the Mac, opening up to business usage of the new generation of Apple devices was a slow development. Like with everything in the modern Apple era, is started with the iPod when in 2002, people could engrave their iPods with a personal message:

Apple even had a special website dedicated to business engravings (I couldn’t find it anymore though), but use was limited. It’s only know that BMW did a larger purchase of engraved iPods.

Five years, nothing special happened.

iPhone only introduced support for Microsoft Exchange – a key enterprise feature – by July 2008. iPad was a bit faster and goes on gain even more stronghold in business use than in private use, it seems.

But it’s Apple Watch that was designed with corporate use from the start. Testimony to that is a dedicated marketing page with quotes not only from IBM, but healthcare and insurance CEOs:

So, Apple seems to be getting faster and faster in supporting enterprise paradigma with new product categories.

Will Apple Car be an enterprise business from the start?

There are a few hints to that:

  1. Judging from the last five years, Tim Cook emphasises enterprise use cases much more than Steve Jobs. Launch times of respective feature sets accelerate. Apple Watch was fastest, and Apple Car could be first to launch a enterprise and consumer business in parallel.
  2. Today’s car business is heavy on enterprise sales. This will become different but even stronger in the future. Sounds counterintuitive? Consider how car usage shifts from ownership to hiring on demand. This means cars need to be organized in highly dynamic fleets. Apple will need partners for that, and here’s the business case: Every fleet will need to have Apple Cars in their portfolio in order to be relevant and to be hired. As an Apple partner, you’re likely to get a larger chunk of the hiring business in your city or region.
  3. There are existing mobility providers (like Uber) who are willing to exchange human drivers to autonomous systems. Not only makes it their margins healthier, but also their services more reliable and more accurate. For both businesses and consumers the availability of premium experiences make a difference, but also for the provider it’s helpful to have a hard- & software partner who drives business. Think mobile carrier and smartphones, but with mobility carriers and smart cars.

It’s not sexy, but it may be the fastest way turning the industry onto its head, when Apple launches the Car b2b and b2c from day one.


Update (inspired by Enrique)

Since Uber will have some thirty thousand autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021, we can assume that this is the benchmark (in terms of volume) that Apple needs to cross. Expect the Car to launch for businesses from the start.

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