Thursday, November 18, 2021

Apple Going All In On Autonomous Vehicles Is The Only Thing That Makes Sense

 Today, Bloomberg was leaked by someone at Apple that the iPhone maker is still trying to become an iCar maker (I am pretty sure Apple's car will not be called the iCar) by trying to leapfrog competitors in a 4-5 years time frame. The thing about this is that it seems more of a plausible leak of Apple's actual plan rather than those spread by "sources" who in the past really does not seem to know what Apple's plans really are.

While it is typical for Apple car rumors to surface a couple of of times a year to give the stock a jolt upward, it is also typical for rumors of trouble from Asian sources that Apple cut iPhone production in the January quarter to drive the Apple's stock price down, what makes this leak more news worthy is that it seems to be what I think about how Apple will engineer and release a car. 

Apple is going to where no car company has gone before - a fully autonomous vehicle that require no direct control from a driver. If true, it will achieve something Tesla is coming close to do but not close enough. It will truly be revolutionary. If you think about it, despite the advances in build material, engineering, and design, the automobile has not really changed much at all.

Now, Apple will not be interested in a Tesla killer. It will not try to muscle in on the car market with another "me, too" vehicle. Unless Apple can bring something to the market that has more to offer than what is already out there, Apple will not do it. This is why Apple's car project, aka Project Titan, has been around for years not without anything to show for it. 

Sure, Apple can design an awesome looking car and complete with Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, and probably Lucid, the car that Apple seemed to have been rumored to release did not seem to offer anything new. What made today's Bloomberg article about Apple's car more plausible is this - no steering wheels or pedals. Now, that just seem crazy, right? But for an intelligent car that can safely navigate Los Angeles traffic, it would have to be truly revolutionary and do something no other car is capable of.

I'm old school about my car so I cannot imagine ever buying a car that I do not have control over. But wait a minute. Steering wheels and gas/break pedals have been around since the Model T and nothing has changed. It's likely that if the Bloomberg article is true, it means that Apple has indeed come up with a way, maybe better or not, for passengers to navigate the Apple car on the road without the need for a steering wheel or pedals.

Impossible? Well, isn't SpaceX's Dragon capsule sending astronauts into space using iPads in space? Suppose Apple has found a way for iPhone or iPad to allow passengers in the Apple car to navigate traffic to get the intended destination.

There is a caveat here: Apple could be blow smoke screens with this leak to Bloomberg and make its competitors waste resources on something Apple itself is not working on or it not actually going to delivery in 2025 as the leak suggests. From a strategic sense, someone at Apple may believe this leak works for Apple. I would not want to venture a guess as to what that advantage is.

Why do I think that? Well, no steering wheels and pedals. Completely no human operators whatsoever. Perhaps Apple is rethinking the whole idea of transportation. What they are coming up with isn't a car at all but a whole new type of vehicle that is truly autonomous and controlled by an iPhone or iPad. Yes, such a car still need some kind of input from the passengers. And if there is more than one passenger and with multiple destinations, the Apple car will find a the best and safest way to get passengers to their destinations.

Apple will be completing with the EV companies as well as traditional car companies that are trying to evolve into EV companies. Apple is not going to compete against them. These companies are very good at what they do and are entrenched. Maybe Apple might succeed in a minor manner with a regular EV car running of version of iOS. But it means it will be competing on someone else's terms. That is not how Apple has competed in the smartphone market or the watch market. It will bring something truly revolutionary or it will not. 

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