Every company at the edge of innovation and design finds itself subject to rumours or hearsay.
When you look at Apple, Inc. it has had an incredible ride at the forefront of consumer and business products. Consigned to near bankruptcy in the mid-1990s, it is dominant in a way that its erstwhile and much missed co-founder Steve Jobs managed to embody.
For many years, Apple was the only company to make and market products where it controlled the entire ecosystem. Software and hardware in perfect harmony. However, even in the realm of its desktop and laptop computers it had come to rely on Intel to provide the chips and this – in turn – dictated the architecture of the devices. For iPhones and iPads it was a lot simpler. Apple provided the “whole widget”. For the Mac, GPUs, memory arrays and so on had to be done in a certain way to fit with how Intel chips worked. Power-per-watt is what lead to the migration away from the then groundbreaking PowerPC. This spectre came to haunt Intel when Apple decided to jump to the M1 chipset. It is ruthlessly efficient and we get the sense that this is only the beginning of something very, very big.
So, having sorted out the widget issue, would Apple be so bold to attempt an automobile?
In a word, yes.
Project Titan is the rumoured name given to Apple’s autonomous electric vehicle initiative. Since the early 2000s, the company has striven to be more environmentally friendly and to use its wealth and influence to spread this among the wider population. However, cars are made up of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of individual components.
Why would Apple become dependent on a multitude of suppliers once again?
This is simple to explain.
The original Apple computers were actually DIY kits. You had to sort the bits and bobs out to make the thing be operational. Through time, the company garnered the best of what was available *at the time* to create what looked like a uniform end-product to consumers.
Take even something as brilliant as the iPod. This was actually a bastardised creation, using many off the shelf components. However, the user experience meant it – at no time – ever felt this way.
Perhaps the “Apple Car” will follow an initially similar path?
Right now, Apple cannot build a motor vehicle itself, with all the will in the world. The Cupertino firm will need to partner with an external expert to make this happen. This could happen in a couple of ways.
Firstly, it could buy someone outright. After all, it has the cash. McLaren is in not the best financial shape, but the design ethos is pretty much a perfect match.
Alternatively, it could form a deep and meaningful partnership with a company like BMW. This could work, but how much of Apple’s secret sauce would it be willing to share to get such a partner on board?
Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in exactly the same way before bringing everything together and in-house as a result of its incredible success and subsequent wealth.
Is the motor vehicle next? Don’t bet against it.