Just wanted to jot down my thoughts on the alleged Apple Car. It will be amusing to look back on and see how wrong I was one way or another.
I still struggle coming to terms with the concept, it seems like such a leap from the digital hardware they manufacture today, to auto maker.
In my mind I can rationalise it in one of two main ways…
Purely capitalist. Apple are one of the few companies that exist today to continue to sell a physical products at a healthy margin. A car certainly continues this fundamental business goal.
Controlling the Experience
This was my first thought.
Apple want to control the experience. In the case of a car this could range massively. Everything from media experience in car, which some have argued, to removing the driver entirely and re-imagining the car as a self-driving leisure space.
If there is still a driver, and I assume there will be in the near term. The dash interface is where Apple, with a smattering of Sharps Free-Form Display technology, could really improve the experience. The rectangular screen sitting in the centre dash column of the Tesla S looks like a compromise and is not the perfect control interface compatible with muscle memory. However I can picture an Apple dash having a logical arrangement and layout.
One interesting thing will be how will they approach the cars options? Think the most of Apples products, few colour and storage options. Cars recently have tended towards a vast array of options. This will be a tricky issue, people are quite personally attached to their cars and feel they represent them. How will they balance the business case for tightly controlled range of options and people feeling they are driving completely impersonal vehicle.
Known for their packaging experience, how will Apple add to the experience of buying a car? I’m assuming you aren’t going to pick it up from the Apple shop.
In the grand scheme of things it is another anchor point to the Apple ecosystem. Siri, iCloud and the eventual streaming services and Maps, simply support owning Apples hardware. You would have an Apple phone in your pocket, a watch on your wrist, ideally an Apple computer at the office – if we are still stubbornly holding on to this notion of a commutable workplace – and an Apple Car to return you to your Apple HomeKit automated residence.
There is also an argument for still being a market that no one except Tesla has clearly made an all out play for. This will change of course when the auto makers reach a tipping point.
Tesla Motors have made incredible progress and Apple could match and edge out, or purchase incumbent car makers. A new electric car focussed manufacturer has none of the considerations to previous fossil fuel powered vehicles and can control the experience in that new market.
There are obvious synergies with battery technology, the batteries and use cases are very different, but there will be areas I’m sure where they would be able to improve in ways different to their competitors. That would also give them a trove of patents to license, sell or withhold from competitors.
Apple are in the home and, like Tesla, I could see them taking the battery technology into power storage at the domestic level. Linked into HomeKit to manage the homes power consumption.
It will force Apple to imagine their car in a World 5, 10, 20 years from now, how will we be living and what part do cars play on that and how do they fit with the rest of our lives?
Lastly what will the iPod name be used for in the future? How about say, individual transportation pods? iPods…