Saturday, February 14, 2015

iCar: Won't Be A Minivan and Might Be A Decade From A Showroom

In reading dozens of articles about certain rumors that either is more and more concrete with each passing hour, there are a couple of takeaways about a potential move into the automotive market by Apple.

First, in hiring a former head of R&D from Mercedes, Apple ain't gonna build a minivan that may or may not be electric only and may or may not be self-driving. Have you see Mercedes' non-sedan vehicles. Ugly! Jony Ives and his team should have soemthing for us that should give Telsa a run for their money. So, no minivan.

Second, how is your awesome HomeKit enabled and Apple streaming video service working out for you on your awesome Apple TV 3 and Apple Home Cinema 4K panel? What, no? Yeah, it's been years in the making and no evidence that Apple has "cracked" televsion as Jobs alluded to in the Walter Issacson Steve Jobs biography.

The Apple TV started off as a hobby and only in the last year when Tim Cook took that label off and, yet, we are still waiting. Having said that, it could be years until we seem a full TV service and hardware from Apple.

And the iCar is just as complicated to develop and there really will not be an opportunity for a beta car or calling an Apple branded car a "hobby". Apple will have to have fully filled out everything before they can hit the carshows with it and start delivering it to the market.

A quick Google search on the average time it takes to develop a car turned up three years. With the new technologies that Apple will be testing, materials, artificial intelligence, robotics, and who knows what new innovations Apple will try to bring to the market, I'm gonna guess Apple will take twice that long. So a ten years window is not out of the real of possibility.

On top of that, 6 to 10 years is a long time and the rest of the auto industry will not be standing still. Tesla will have improved its own profile vehicles and have addressed a bigger part of the market with better and more efficient Model S and X. Even with a minor delay or two, Model 3 will have been out on the market for years. This is also not discounting vast improvements being made by existing electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius, and the Volt. Others will also come out with their own green cars soon.

I bring this up only because Apple will need to address where the market is going to be a decade from now and offer something that can still be disruptiveand game-changing. It is hard to fathom what Apple can bring to the market that will give car owners the same reactions iPhone owners had when they first got their Apple mobile devices and say "wow, I can't believe how I lived without this before".

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