Apple is not building a car. Not today, not tomorrow, not this year. Not ever. It’s not building a gas one or a diesel one. It’s not building an electric one or nuclear-powered one. It’s not.
I do not have inside information. Apple has offered me an official no comment "on rumor and speculation." Ostensibly, I have no more information than anyone else. Yet I know in my bones that "Project Titan" is not a real thing. Honestly, it sounds like just the kind of name you’d give a shell or fake project. “Project Hercules” would have worked just as well.
See also: I Drove a 3D Printed Car
I’m certain there are 1,000 people, at least, at Apple R&D working on a variety of secret projects. Others are working on more public ones like CarPlay. That is a thing and it is coming to cars, but not with an Apple Car. Because that does not exist. Here’s why.
An automobile is a complex device. Ford told me earlier this year that the typical automobile has between 5,000 and 6,000 parts. An electric car does cut down the number of moving parts (Tesla’s motor has just one moving part), but may only marginally reduce complexity.
Cars, smartphones and laptops are manufactured in similar fashion: sourced parts, assembly lines. But if Apple built a car as it does a smartphone, we might end up with a gleaming metal chassis, cold, yet elegant seats, and a fantastic dashboard interface, but little else. I guess Apple could partner with Hyundai or Toyota to finish the car with cushioned seats, doors, windows, mirrors and a leather interior. Wheels and rims would probably still have to be sourced from Detroit.
At that point, it wouldn’t really be an Apple Car, would it? What kind of control could Apple apply to these age-old car parts supply businesses? Would it hold the kind of sway it does over the companies that supply silicon and touch-screen LCD panels?
I don’t think so.
Apple does some manufacturing in the U.S., most notably for the cylindrical Mac Pro, but I think its preference — for cost management, and high-production-level products — is still outside the U.S.
Could Apple really sell a car in the U.S. that was built outside the country? Sure, others do it, but many of these automobile manufacturers are already based abroad. Apple is born and bred here. Car lovers will expect some respect and that Apple would at least show the decency to build in Detroit. Of course doing so would likely mean dealing with the United Auto Workers. Apple has little experience with unions and their workers. Does it want to build a car so badly to start right now?
Of course it doesn’t.
Lack of pure-play automotive expertise
Apple hired Mercedes Benz R&D head Johann Jungwirth. That, people say, is incontrovertible proof that Apple is working on a car. Yes, just like how me buying a pan proves I want to be a chef.
No, that only proves I want to cook; and Jungwirth’s hiring only proves Apple wants to understand cars, which makes perfect sense as it finally rolls out its CarPlay dashboard interface.
Could Apple be working on other in-car-technology, like a better way to charge your iPhones and use them hands-free while on the road? Absolutely.
Margins and dealerships
Apple makes an iPhone 6 for approximately $200 and sells it (before carrier subsidies) for roughly $650. That’s a pretty good business. The margins on an average car, depending on who you ask, can run anywhere from 40% profit to as low as 5%. Even if the margins were better, there’s a world of difference between selling a phone, a tablet or even a computer and selling a car.
Prices for smartphones, tablets and computers are almost low enough for them to be considered discretionary purchases. I don’t care if the car is powered by gas, electricity or fuel cells, it’ll cost at least $25,000. That’s a considered purchase.
And unless Apple can fit a car in one of its Apple Stores, it'll need specialized locations to sell Apple Cars: expensive showroom space populated with trained salespeople willing to spend a lot of time trying to sell you this one imaginary car.
Apple Stores thrive on foot traffic and fairly quick sales of myriad items. An Apple Car showroom might have a car or two and significantly fewer daily customers. Put simply, an Apple Car would be an expensive and slow-moving item. Where Apple sells millions of iPhones in hours, it might sell dozens of Apple Cars in weeks or months.
And Apple would want to do that because…?
Not the Apple way
Automotive is not the kind of category Apple likes to enter. It’s not new, it’s not broken and it’s already thriving. It’s a segment that has more in common with fashion than technology. People choose cars for very personal and idiosyncratic reasons. Assuming Apple could produce one car, could that offer enough options to satisfy a wide variety of driver tastes?
Beyond being electric and having that CarPlay interface, what do people think will set this Apple Car apart from models from Ford, GM, Toyota or even Tesla? Tesla, in a way, is everything the Apple Car could be: electric, highly designed, rarified, expensive, exclusive. Tesla also sells a fraction of the number of cars the traditional automakers do. Apple is not in the fractions game.
Its play is to find a broken category (or at least an underserved one), build a category-defining product that fixes the model and shows others the way, and then reap the rewards of the market it essentially built.
The auto industry is not one of those markets.
Jobs was not really a car guy
Apple founder Steve Jobs was a California guy and former hippie. He was never really a car guy. He certainly owned cars, buying his first one when he was 15, but was not passionate about them like his father. As Walter Isaacson pointed out in his biography of the late visionary, Jobs’ father was a car guy and often let the young Jobs hang around when he worked on cars. This gave Jobs an appreciation for design and the electronics inside cars. It did not lead to a yearning to build an Apple Car.
Sure, Jobs could have had some private musings about the auto industry that we don’t know about, but the stuff he was passionate about is, for the most part, on the market or on Apple’s drawing boards. TV sets, arguably one of Job’s last big ideas, is well documented, thanks to Isaacson. However, there are no Apple TV sets, yet. I now wonder if that’s because the TV industry is a little bit too much like the auto industry. Large, impenetrable and not necessarily worth Apple’s time and consideration.
You think I’m wrong? You were all ready to run out and buy a third-party cover for your all-leather Apple Car steering wheel? Stop being ridiculous. If it makes you feel any better, I ran my thoughts by Creative Strategies President Tim Bajarin. Like me, Bajarin’s been watching Apple for decades. He offered these succinct thoughts: “I think Apple is more interested in owning the dashboard of all future cars. I just can’t see them doing a branded car.”
Nor can I Tim, nor can I.
Source : https://mashable.com/2015/02/18/apple-car-nope/