The Car is the “Ultimate Mobile Device,” Apple SVP Admits

by Matt Klassen on May 29, 2015

The still unsubstantiated rumours about Apple’s possible entrance in the automotive industry were given significant fuel this past week, as Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams spoke publicly about the interest a mobile company like Apple could have in creating a connected car.

“The car is the ultimate mobile device, isn’t it?” Williams said at a technology conference last Wednesday. “We explore all kinds of categories. We’ll certainly continue to look at those, and evaluate where we can make a huge difference.”

Now granted this is a far cry from confirmation that anything is in the works regarding an Apple car, and Williams himself later explained that Car Play, his company’s car-connected app, was to date the extent of Apple’s connected car efforts, but speculation surrounding Apple’s development plans has been fuelled by less (much less) before, so it’s no surprise the world is once again anticipating Apple revolutionizing yet another industry in the near future.

In April analysts at noted investment-research firm Sanford C. Bernstein issued a report why Apple may in fact be developing a connected car that would compete with anything we’ve seen from major automakers to date. This report followed speculation earlier in the year, fuelled by one unsolicited email from an anonymous Apple employee, that Apple was indeed building a car that would “give Tesla a run for its money.”

Of course Apple has remained tight-lipped about any such projects, again only noting that Car Play is its only automotive effort at this point.

But as we’ve said here before, there are still significant reasons to be wary about such rumours, for while Apple has certainly revolutionized industries before, it has never ventured so far afield from its core competences. So unless the company is really getting worried about sustained future growth, I doubt it would risk so much to wade into an industry it knows so little about. The jump from computers to smartphones is one thing; the jump from smartphones to cars is something else entirely.

So how far should we read into Williams’ cryptic comments about the car being the “ultimate mobile device”? I, for one, fully expect Apple to enter the automotive industry in the near future, not as a manufacturer, but as a tech partner, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the company once again leveraged its tech dominance to strike exclusivity deals with certain automotive titans—at least in the short term—as a way to generate the sorts of market hype Apple is known for.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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