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#Micromobility made me think different

Thoughts on Apple Car, Part 119


On September 5th 2018, I joined the second #Micromobility summit in Copenhagen, put together and intellectually led by Horace Dediu. I came in with the very same bias that Horace wanted to challenge in the industry: Are self-driving cars the next big thing, or is it actually an unbundling of the car altogether, resulting in a wave of micromobility that we are starting to see build up?

I left with a different world view than before.

  • Is the car not just reshaped in any way possible, but also disassembled, losing half of its business along the way?
  • How would Apple’s Project Titan stack up against all the players in this emerging transportation switch?

Time to rethink some of my previous assumptions.


What if… Project Titan isn’t just about four wheels?

Apple Park features Apple-designed bikes for employees to go around campus. They were featured heavily in this year’s iPhone event’s opening video, with the actress racing to Steve Jobs Theater.

BTW: It’s the second time Apple used a mobility-themed opening video this year.

It shows that the company is using specific means of transportation inside its theme park called Apple Park. They are trying to build an on-campus autonomous bus using Volkswagen’s vans as a part of its PAIL (Palo-Alto-Infinite-Loop) program.

But they also acknowledge that for shorter, more nimble distances, it makes sense to use a bike. The carefully designed the way they want a bike to look. It’s important to note, though, that these bikes are not electric. Either they want people to be more active themselves and close rings on Apple Watch, or keep the speed down on campus.

Not everyone can race around like this:

Outside of Apple Park, the world is moving rapidly towards electric bikes with smarts and batteries — or as Horace Dediu put it in a twist on Steve Jobs’ famous saying, they have:

A mind for the bicycle.

What if… it’s just two small wheels with a brain?

So far, Apple has not taken any noticeable approach towards electric scooters, although they are taking over California and the Western world by storm. So far, Apple is only taking part in providing the App Store infrastructure.

They could test them in a closed system, as they like, and learn more about the use cases that make sense to their other product lines like Apple Watch or the possible Glasses. Scooters today have batteries, but they’re not that smart (SJ). And they definitely do not make use of any AR application so far.

The question for Project Titan really is: How low will they go? What lower mileages and distances would they like to cover? What is the correct entry product and initial mode to go into the transportation business?

Whatever it is, we will all hurry to get to the introductory event at Steve Jobs Theater in Apple Park.