Lately, Apple has been adding to their space exploration team. Not only does Apple have their sights set on your mobile life, but evidently they look up at night and think about how to reach for the stars. Apple recently added two of Google's satellite executives to some vaguely understood hardware team. In April an inside-the-satellite-beltway blog site talked of Apple working with Boeing regarding Low Earth Orbit (LEO) multi-thousand satellite deployment. Sounds cool, but when it comes to Apple, the age old question remains; What's in it for me?
Have you ever been on a cruise or taken a flight? How about visiting another country far away or hiking to parts unknown? In each scenario internet access often costs far too much to justify, or simply isn't available. If you've ever attended a college football game good luck getting anything in or out of your iPhone, as the towers are typically jammed solid with traffic. Now envision all these places, or virtually everywhere, providing strong signal with amazing speeds for any task, anywhere, any time. That's what's in it for you.
Project Titan, Apple's not-so-secret car program, has apparently been all over the map. But just when the Titan finally appeared to have legs, former Ford executive, Steve Zadesky, who was heading up Apple's automotive project, left the company in September, 2016. Filling Zadesky's vacuum, veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield promptly took over the reigns. According to the New York Times, Mansfield immediately slashed the Titan workforce, whittling the program down to autonomous-only driving solutions. Earlier this week Apple CEO, Tim Cook, just revealed publicly that autonomous driving is indeed Apple's direction. But I've never bought into any Apple CEO's public comments (only delivering part of a picture they want us to see), nor do I buy into the "paper of record" rumors, nor should you.
Mansfield has saved many fledging programs at Apple, working with shoestring teams while delivering remarkable results. Project Titan had become a program losing it's Apple culture, while gaining a bloated staff with far too many Detroit executives running the show. Mansfield was tasked to bring the program back to Apple's roots with a lean and focused team. Evidence continues to mount an Apple car has always been – and still is – on it's way.
Say it ain't so, but then again is it really all that wise to question Mark Gurman of Bloomberg? According to Gurman, Apple's Bob Mansfield, heading up Apple's car aspirations, has drastically scaled back the program guiding it towards an autonomous only, software-based state. The project, running under the not-so-secret code name Project Titan, once on track to be a grand electric car, could realize itself as little more than autonomous driving software technology to be licensed to automotive manufacturers. Evidently, the door is open for the technology to be worked back into a fully developed Apple car in the far future. But currently any "Apple car or bust!" direction is now off the table. Or is it?
If Mansfield has indeed dialed back Project Titan, focusing only on autonomous driving for the time being, it would be hard to view it as anything less than a massive failure within Apple's leadership. We previously discussed how Apple has lost momentum in many categories, missing complete launch cycles due to Project Titan brain-drain. For the car program to be scaled back in this fashion, while hurting the company in other areas, will be utterly unacceptable from many within Apple's investment circles and beyond, striking another blow to Tim Cook's leadership abilities.
Over the last several months I have more than touched on Apple’s lack of hardware advancements. With WWDC having come and gone without a single new hardware release or update, it is time to take a deeper looking into One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA and figure out just what is going on.
1) Apple Car
There can be little doubt about it. Apple is building an electric car, and the company is pouring massive resources into it. The car program, known as the project Titan, it has been rumored the team could cherry pick any worker from anywhere in the company, at any level. If this is indeed the case, expect some brain drain and a few hiccups in other hardware and software areas to occur, if many of Apple’s best and brightest have been thrown to the car.
April 24, 2015. It was to be a big day in Apple’s history, and a big day for Tim Cook to show the world he could match the brilliance of his predecessor Steve Jobs. Apple Watch was finally available for sale. It was Cook’s first new product category and it was fully under his direction and guidance. The result? Yawn.
Apple Watch is cool and works well within the Apple eco system, but it wasn’t a must-have item, and yet Apple spent abundant resources on bringing this gem (pun intended) to market. Products that suffered in Apple Watch’s development wake have been iPhone, iPad, iOS, Mac and OS X. It seems under Cook Apple can really only fully focus on one item at a time, which is exactly where Apple is today.
MotorTrend's (MT) latest issue reveals their ideas on how Apple will approach the car. If MT got it right then Apple has deployed the lost interns of Yugo to develop their would-be vehicle. In a word; hideous.
The magazine's latest issue is clearly designed to turn heads and pull in record numbers of pageviews, but beyond that it just might be one of the worst columns MT has ever done. My fear is MT turns itself into the Consumer Reports of car review periodicals, with lots of shock and little based in reality in order to maintain relevancy.
In the midst of a lovely evening in Freemont, California, this past Thursday night Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, introduced the world to Tesla's latest electric car. The Model 3. Consider the automotive world changed with the clock ticking for most every auto maker in the world. Compete with Tesla or get blown away. Think I'm kidding? Like the era of mainframes and IBM dominating the computer industry, only to have Apple change the paradigm, Tesla is the Apple of the automotive world.
Apple's big un-secret of exploring the automotive industry is well known, but will the green light be given for Apple to actually enter the car market? The answer seems to be an overwhelming yes. Tesla's Model 3 is now the car to beat, but Apple's known this for quite some time. Over the past several years Apple and Tesla have been prying employees away from one another, thus an obvious assumption is that Apple has known what they will need to achieve in order to top Tesla's first attempt at a quasi-mass market four-door sedan. So when, exactly, will Apple's own vehicle arrive?
It is time to quit talking around Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s feelings about a possible forthcoming Apple car. The core of what’s really going on is simply this — Elon Musk is scared silly of Apple releasing a car.
Make no mistake, the end of good looking car design is over — at least if designers of electric vehicles have anything to say about it. It seems the era of “ugly is cool” has arrived. Automotive history has had its share of clunkers, but the tidal wave of ugly-by-electric shows no signs of slowing down, leaving it up to luxury and many mainstream brands to save the planet from absolutely hideous sheet metal design.
The auto industry: dull, unimaginative, predictable. The car market has remained relatively unchanged for decades, and a gluttony of focus group developed cars has helped keep it that way. The industry slowly innovates, making glacial ice-ages look fast.
The result is, at best, is incremental improvement, with Detroit scrambling to find the next niche segment to gain market share. But cracks in plodding automotive market are starting take place. From startups, to radical new fuel alternatives, the auto industry is on the precipice of the largest transformation in its history, and Apple appears ready to usher in its own sea change of ideas.