Apple Car Project Breaks Up with BMW & Daimler to Go It Alone. No Pressure

| Particle Debris

The mountain of evidence to support the thesis that Apple is working on a car, no doubt an electric car, is now overwhelming. Here's one more supporting story that's had to ignore. "Apple appears to be prototyping car parts at its ‘product realization lab’ w/ new hires from Tesla & Andretti Autosport."

Apple car concept winner: Image credlt: Freelancer

At this point some might be tempted to suggest that Apple's CEO Tim Cook just go ahead and admit what the company is up to. But I disagree. There's no upside to showing Apple's hand at this point and many advantages to avoiding a public discussion of Apple's plans. Especially when it comes to working with other companies who also want to keep their specific relationship to Apple generally under wraps for now. Here's just one example: "BMW And Daimler Reportedly End Apple Car Talks Over User Data Control Issue."

My theory on this is that Apple's potential partners are concerned that their expertise would be tapped by Apple without adequate compensation. So when the issue of genuine partnership and sharing of information comes up, Apple historical reluctance to do that surfaces. Plus, Apple likes to be in control.

And so, it's looking more and more like Apple will have to work with experienced individuals whom they acquire from other companies. In addition, Apple might work with small component manufacturters who have a lot to gain financially, but don't feel like their entire automotive product line and brand is at risk from a smart, technical newbie. That is, if they can keep Apple's secrets.

The Scariest Thing Apple Has Ever Done

This is a scary, risky adventure for Apple with a high payoff. However, it remains to be seen if Apple's organizational structure and management style can extend to the introduction of its first electric car. Namely, a powerful CEO (Cook) with no specific car experience is directing executives who are brought in, but don't have the ultimate authority to make decisons and commit resources. Can that work? Plus, not only does Apple have to solve a host of manufacturing, supply, and quality control issues, but the company has to meet government regulations everywhere it goes to market and be able to service what it sells.

Another challenge that's barely been discussed is the design decisions Apple makes about body styling. I delved into that recently. "The Apple Car Will Be Beautiful & Desirable, Not an Econobox." Unlike other established car companies that have a broad range of models to suit different customer tastes and needs, Apple will only have one shot to get it right. That is, unless Apple comes out with several cars: sports car, SUV, family car. Then the challenge triples.

Somewhere in Apple's past, the executive team got together and came to the conclusion that their expertise in manufacturing, supply chain management, technology, software and hardware integration can pull this off. However, the falling out with BMW and Daimler also suggests that Apple is also looking shore up its inexperience.

That's why, a few years ago, many observers suggested that Apple just up and acquire Tesla, eventually imprinting its own vision on Tesla. But that idea had died as it's become clear that Apple thinks it can do much better on its own. As the BMW/Daimler story linked above suggests.

It's going to be amazing to see how that works out.

Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 18th. Get Ready for Faster Change. 

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The Page 2 links seem to be out of order.

John Martellaro

geoduck.  I messed up again. Perhaps the webmaster will bail me out for the Nth time.

Temporary fix in place.


{quote] I don’t even want to think about what will happen if Apple gives up on the Mac Pro for technical professionals.


I don’t think the Mac Pro can flourish, unless Jony Ive get his hands off it. The current model is nice eye candy, but it’s inherently impractical. Working professionals want lots of room for customization, with easy plug-and-play upgradability, like the HP Z series.

Apple has exited the monitor business, and they’ve all but exited the pro computing business. I’m hoping for a big surprise in June, but I’m not optimistic. Remember the pretty servers they created and then abandoned? Still, pro computers are a high-margin item, and even with low production numbers, they could be defensible from a business perspective.

Wouldn’t you love to see a big boxy Mac Pro that could out-gun the best PC workstations? I wish Apple would nix the trashcan and get in the ring with the big boys.

Paul Goodwin

Apple getting into the car business (IMO) would create the largest black hole for money the world has ever known. They’d be bleeding billions for many many years - maybe 20 to establish themselves. To get any sales volume, the car would have to be affordable to the masses, and profit margins are low on cheaper cars. The expensive cars with decent profit margin are in a small market, with established manufacturers that have built their reputation for 30-50 years. They are status symbols too and accepted by the high end car buyers as the only ones to buy. Then the market is shrunk even more for an electric car in an era of low price gasoline.

I do think Apple could enter the automotive business as a computer control/monitoring/entertainment system supplier/integrator. If they could come up with the world’s best system, they car companies will buy it. They buy many big car components and subsystems from suppliers.

Lee Dronick

  Apple getting into the car business (IMO) would create the largest black hole for money the world has ever known. They’d be bleeding billions for many many years - maybe 20 to establish themselves.

They may have to get into the car business, or something other than iOS devices and Macintoshes, in order to survive. They seem to be a business with long term vision. As to price point, there are sport Apple watches and Editions with places in between, same with Macs; they could do that with autos as have the established manufacturers.

Let us remember that many long established auto companies almost croaked, some did, because they didn’t innovate enough.

Paul Goodwin

Lee. Seems like they could do it as well or better than most. The problem with the car market is that a great car, even the best car doesn’t always translate into great sales. They certainly need to be developing products other than the iOS devices, Macs and watches. I would love to hear about their many R&D projects that they decided to not pursue in the last five years. It would be interesting reading.

Lee Dronick

  The problem with the car market is that a great car, even the best car doesn’t always translate into great sales.

Yes, the buyers can certainly be hard to predict. They better have a model that is very compelling and hard to resist, priced just right.

  I would love to hear about their many R&D projects that they decided to not pursue in the last five years. It would be interesting reading.

To be a fly on the wall in some of those meetings.


This could all still be an elaborate and expensive hoax to get Samdung to put more money into a Samdung car!!

But seriously, there’s a lot of talk about fully autonomous cars, but well before they are ready for prime time, there is a LOT that Apple can do prior to that with an Apple Car. By the way, I am curious about something: What happens when 4 autonomous cars arrive at a 4-way stop at the same time? Do they all wait until one of the other cars proceeds through? Or, if they are all programmed the same, won’t they sit there a few seconds, then begin to proceed through the intersection at exactly the same time, then after a few feet they would all stop again, wait, then proceed again, then stop, then proceed, until all 4 cars are within inches of each other in the middle of the intersection?!?!? LOL.

I don’t want a fully autonomous car. Hundreds of millions of Americans don’t want a fully autonomous car. Maybe they will work in big cities, but I live in the Midwest and I really don’t see them getting here for a very long time, if ever. What I do want (and what Apple can give me) is an electric car that learns from me - my driving technique, my typical destinations, my schedule, etc. and then help me get the job of driving done (like my iPhone helps me with many of my other tasks). It (she?) learns that I typically leave at 6 AM for work M-F except for maybe 1 day a week when I leave at 5:45 to stop at Starbucks. She maps my driving based on this and knows that when I leave around 6 that if I ask Siri to ‘take over’ she knows to take Exit XX but if I leave around 5:45 she takes Exit YY and pulls into Starbucks for me. I want my car to drive like I do, not some stupid mindless autobot. I want her to know I’m running 5 minutes late so not to slowly accelerate from stop signs like normal to save battery power. I want her to learn that in small town aaa not to slow all the way down to 40 as there are NEVER police officers there, so 50 is OK, but the next town yyy you’d better get down to 39 before getting to the MPH sign. I want her to know that I typically pass cars in these particular stretches, even if they are doing 58, as I normally do 63 there, and I’m OK accelerating quickly to 70 while passing and then slowing back down to 63 on the other side. I want to be able to switch off and on from driving with just a spoke word or maybe just taking the steering wheel or foot on the pedal. I want my car to drive like me when I let go of the wheel, even to the point of timing the light as I come around the corner that if it’s green when I first see it, I NEVER make it, so you may as well start to slow down since it will be red before you know it. I even want her to know that when driving in this area, always hug the center line to avoid those stupid manhole covers that have sunken too deep in the road and are basically potholes. I want her to come to a rolling stop at the country 4 way stops (unless a car is coming way too fast on the cross street to stop safely) but to completely stop and flash my headlights to let the other guy go if we get there about the same time. THIS is how Apple will succeed in the electric car business if they so choose to enter it.



Much to chose from this week. I’ll concentrate on but two items.

First, about Apple having to go it alone on the car venture; no risk is without an upside, but it requires both vision and courage to see and exploit it. Although pairing with an experienced partner well ensconced in the auto industry, indeed, an industry leader, has obvious advantages insofar as navigating the quagmire of design, engineering, production and regulatory challenges that could flummox a novice, it also has serious potential downsides, which it appears Apple have both encountered and rejected, notably seniority in the partnership, control, IP ownership and even branding; and that is even before you get to the inertia that accompanies industrial legacy, i.e. ‘But this is how we’ve always done it, and we’re not changing it just for you’. Industrial inertia can profoundly militate against innovation, and this is perhaps the most important challenge.

Accepting that one is not simply going to move inefficiently through the mire of a first product in a mature industry, but will frankly make mistakes has the virtue of adjusting expectations realistically. That’s the smaller part, but it does require patience, courage, a thick skin, and an ability to applied lessons learnt.

The bigger part, in every sense of that word, is about the freedom to innovate, literally from the ground up, unencumbered by tradition, legacy, bureaucracy and the restrictions of being a subordinate or junior partner. Of course, senior parties in the industry will predict failure for the novice. That is part of the psychological warfare waged to abort unwanted completion before it is born.

I recall creating my own field site and suite of research projects at the start of my own career. I was in a foreign country whose language I did not (yet) speak, not allowed to use existing field sites for field trials, which I had never conducted, in a research field I had not yet entered. I was told by division chiefs and senior colleagues (experts) that I would fail miserably, nay spectacularly and publicly. That liberated me to be bold, and rethink the enterprise from the ground up, and create a research model that has become a globally studied and emulated model.

The point is, Apple now have the freedom create a new model of not only car but industrial approach, and come at the competition from an entirely unexpected direction, which is both materially and psychologically devastating. BMW and Daimler have done them a favour.

Christina Warren’s piece on how Apple approaches security is a truly impressive peak behind the veil. One of her most salient points is that Apple wanted to conduct silicon based encryption before the first iPhone shipped in 2007, but had to wait for the technology to catch up. This underscores, yet again, that Apple play the long game. It emphatically differentiates Apple’s iOS from Google’s Android, not simply in terms of current security status, but prognosticates about each OS’s fitness for long term survival.

Unlike Google’s OS, which was a hastily cobbled response to iOS, in turn farmed out to multiple third party OEMs for distribution, Apple have thought through their product from the ground up, software, hardware and ecosystem, all of which they control as a coherent, integrated system, and importantly, have leveraged into a cohesive and expandable platform. While Google may try to wrest greater control over its OS from the wild, Apple already control their OS and hardware, have from the beginning and are continuing to consolidate their original longterm plan. There is an inherent economy of motion within the Apple domain that permits greater forward motion and work for the same energy expenditure on the part of Google, which confers a survival advantage to Apple’s approach. Apple can cover more ground with less cost. Not only that, iOS does not sit as an isolated product but as an integral component of a much larger platform, and as such, renders Apple’s approach less sensitive to any one component of that platform. Apple, in theory, could radically pivot on iOS, so long as iOS’s successor continued to function seamlessly within that platform and preserve or even improve the user experience, without jeopardising the loyalty of their user base. The same cannot be said for a stand alone product like Android, which with any substantial alteration, could impair relations with OEMs let alone the user base.

Great iOS 10 concept by Viticci et al.

John Martellaro

RonMacGuy: Also, what if an autonomous car takes you to the grocery store on Christmas Eve and every parking space is full. With no manual controls, what would it do?  Does the passenger select “Troll mode” ?

Summer time: two spaces available. Does the car pick the parking space such that when you get out, you don’t put your foot into a puddle of mud?


By the way, I am curious about something: What happens when 4 autonomous cars arrive at a 4-way stop at the same time?

The Google car (running Chrome) goes first. The Apple Car (Safari) next. The Microsoft car goes last both because it’s running IE and because it has to wait for an update to Microsoft Intersection before proceeding.

John Martellaro

geoduck: I thought I read something about a car-to-car communication system that negotiates who goes first.  FIFO, etc.  Here’s where the Feds need to set a standard. If anyone has read about that, let me know.


Funny, geoduck!! Thanks, John, and good questions on your side as well on the parking spaces. Obvious, if it is fully autonomous, it would simply drop you off at the door and drive out of the parking lot altogether and wait a few minutes away until it is summoned.

If there is car-to-car then that would be great and very useful. As we transition to more autonomous cars it would be nice to know if the car approaching the 4-way stop you are about to proceed through is A. Autonomous and therefore plans to stop, or B. Human driven with a potential to ignore or completely miss the stop altogether. A visual to tell you which one would be very useful - that is, until human driving is completely outlawed in the US. Until then, a semi-autonomous car needs to know the driving state of any vehicle around it to know if it can be trusted or if human error is possible, thus treating the human cars like a potential deer running out in front of you!! Of course, two Siri-driven cars passing each other will ‘smile’ at each other and tell human jokes to each other!!


HP and BOXX either are or soon will be shipping workstation class machines with 14 nm Broadwell Xeons( Intel announced their availability over a month ago ). With two possible CPUs and up to 44 cores many pros will want them. As the article mentions, AEC( architects, engineering, construction - my old field ) apps tend to be single core, so multi-core Xeons aren’t quite as attractive for those pros since higher clock speed Skylake i7-based machines run those apps faster. However, musicians and other pros would, IMO, be thrilled to buy dual CPU high core count n-MP machines.  If Apple decides to add a second CPU, there are some TDP considerations that need addressing, so it should be interesting to see what they deliver. I’m hoping they will make an n-MP I want to buy this year. Brian

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