Is the Apple Car still a thing?

by Matt Klassen on April 22, 2016

AppleCar2-640x354It really wasn’t that long ago that connected cars were front and centre in tech industry hype, and speculation was mounting that Apple would wade into the automotive industry with a connected car of its own. In fact, during the late summer of 2015 it seemed all we could talk about was Apple’s rumoured car project and its associated hiring of various automotive specialists, leaving many dreaming about the future where our favourite mobile device became our favourite conveyance. Oh how things have changed.

To say that in the last few months that speculation surrounding a potential Apple car project has quieted would be a huge understatement, as the prompt and total evaporation of the entire discussion had for a moment left me wondering if I had dreamt the entire thing.

While Apple has not and will not comment on the status of such a secretive project, there was a report earlier this year from AppleInsider that outlined a hiring freeze related to the creation of a connected car, and given that many of Apple’s automotive industry hires have since left the company, and the fact no one is talking about anything, and either Apple is about to pull off the greatest misdirection in tech history, or the Apple car to the place many thought it would inevitably end up, the scrap heap of broken dreams.

As one tech analyst insightfully wrote, “We’ll never know how many products have been birthed, gestated, iterated, honed and ultimately killed before ever seeing the light of day in Cupertino.” This means, quite simply, that there are innumerable projects that Apple has funded that were subsequently scrapped, who’s to say that the connected car wasn’t one of them.

Further, at the time when the initial rumours came to light it was widely speculated that Apple might have been looking to acquire electric car pioneer Tesla Motors, and given the latter’s resistance to the notion and its domination of the electric car market, perhaps whatever Apple had in the works simply didn’t size up well against the competition.

But truth be told, that’s what many in the automotive industry said about the initial idea, that the Cupertino company would struggle to manage the logistics of manufacturing a car and would, ultimately, be unsuccessful in competing with the established brands. What Apple should stick to, many car industry leaders said, was creating the connected technology that goes into the cars and leave the rest to the professionals.

Of course even as I write that news comes across my desk that perhaps Apple is indeed simply taking the project in another direction, heeding the advice of industry insiders and finding partners (something which Apple famously loathes) in the industry to produce the car the Cupertino company wants.

All that to say, given the fevered pitch that speculation surrounding Apple’s possible entry into the automotive industry reached less than a year ago, it’s amazing how quiet things have become, which for me means that something has gone wrong on the development side, and either Apple has scrapped the project entirely, choosing instead to focus on its in-vehicle CarPlay technology, or it’s simply trying to manage expectations as the reality of the project gets further and further away from the original vision.

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

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