Apple Reportedly Shifting Car Plans to 2021

| Analysis

Apple has reportedly shifted its internal window for releasing its much-rumored car to 2021. This is contrary to previous leaks from Apple’s Project Titan that put the goal as early as 2020 or even 2019.

The information came from a The Information profile of three brothers who all worked on Project Titan. That article included a brief mention caught by 9to5Mac about the target slipping to 2021.

Apple hasn’t officially announced its car, though it is a certainty the company is working on one. By extension, Apple hasn’t announced a shipping date for the car. There have been lots of leaks about the mobile device, though, and earlier reports did indicate an earlier goal.

Apple Car Artist Rendition, with Electric Plug

Apple Car Artist Rendition, with Electric Plug

Does This Delay Matter?

Personally, I’ll buy into this new report. It works for me. The only real question from my vantage point is whether or not it matters. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who labeled Apple Car Silicon Valley’s “open secret,” also said 2020 would be too late for Apple to enter the market.

Far be it for me to argue with someone as brilliant and connected as Elon Musk, but I don’t think there’s ever a time that’s “too late” for Apple to make a car. It may have been important for Tesla to be on the bleeding edge of electric cars, but Apple plays by different rules.

While Apple often expands a market by entering (MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, for instance), Apple is never first into a market. Automobiles are as mature a market as ever there was, and whether Apple enters it in 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2030 is irrelevant.

Apple’s formula for success is bringing a better experience than the competition; changing the rules of competition; and controlling one or more key technologies that allow the company to charge high margins. Being early has never been part of that equation, and it won’t be a factor in Apple’s success with cars.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Another factor is that the auto industry is going to see major upheaval and change during the next 20 years whether or not Apple Car ships. Electric cars, self-driving cars, and ride sharing services are three tidal waves sweeping over automakers even now. Those tidal waves will take decades to resolve.

During those decades, new names will rise and old names will fall. Consolidation and bankruptcies and emerging companies will shift the nature of the industry on a global scale. Amidst all this disruption, it doesn’t matter when Apple Car ships so long as it is good to go.

With that in mind, it sucks if Apple did pushits plans back, but that’s mainly because I can’t wait to see Apple Car. In terms of competition and disruption, it’s not that big a deal. It’s far more important that Apple Car be right than it be early.

Jeff Gamet, Dave Hamilton, and I discussed this topic during Thursday’s Daily Observations.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. CudaBoy

    What Apple car? 5 years hence is 20 in the tech world and as such Apple would not only be late but horribly obsolete as they have ZERO idea today where the puck will be in 5 years. But BYD would have a tremendous head start since they are on the bleeding edge of electric trucks and buses (and cars) now. If I were Apple and serious about making a car – I wouldn’t make the car – BYD would and the car SYSTEM would be Apple’s but the guts would be BYD. Buffett (and I) have bought into BYD and like all my picks it’s going to explode in the next few years. Now Samsung has bought a stake in them as well and Samsung is no rookie in the car biz (see Renault) Apple spent a billion on that ride-sharing thing in China so it makes sense they could use a Chinese made car as well. China is the #1 customer of plug-ins last year (though most don’t plug them in because of infrastructure) and that’s the target mkt imo.

  2. d'monder

    Whether Apple enters it in 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2030 is irrelevant.

    The longer it takes Apple to enter the market, the more time the rest of the industry will have to raise the bar and improve their product. Apple will be fielding a 1.0 version product against solid competition.

    IMO this whole car thing is beginning to have shades of 1995, i.e. “What Microsoft does doesn’t matter; Copland will set the gold standard for computing, and Apple will ship it when it’s ready…”.

Add a Comment

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter, Facebook) or Register for a TMO Account