Apple is going into the car business. According to BusinessInsider, an Apple employee wrote to say that his group was working on something that will, "give Tesla a run for its money." My own sources back this up.
I learned last week that Apple has been poaching employees from Tesla. I don't mean the kind of tit-for-tat headhunting that goes on between all Silicon Valley companies (now that the no-poaching agreements are out).
Bloomberg reported that Tesla and Apple have been in a hiring war for some time, but the focus of that report was general hiring. There are all kinds of positions that are needed whether you're making cars, computers, or kiosks. Human resources, software engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, human resources, artists, designers, recruiters, supply chain managers, secretaries...the list is long.
But what I learned is that Apple has been looking for—and acquiring—the kind of people from Tesla with expertise that is most suited to cars. So much so that I went from being a doubter to a believer almost instantly.
From another source who travels in more rarified circles than yours truly, I also learned that a lot of people at the top in Silicon Valley consider it a given that Apple is working on a car. This is circumstantial, at best, but if you're going to crowd-source wisdom, you could do a lot worse than polling the C-suite.
I should add that when I asked one of my sources flat out to put a percentage chance on Apple working on an actual car—rather than some kind of car-related technology—I was told, "80 percent."
When coupled with everything I've learned since, I'm personally closer to 100 percent.
You might be thinking that the world of automobiles is well outside Apple's wheelhouse. In some ways that's true. But so were cellphones when Apple was developing the iPhone. If you go back to 2007, one of the common talking points from Apple doubters and haters was, "What does Apple know about making cellphones?"
Not all that much, but it turned out that Apple knew—or figured out—practically everything about how to make a smartphone practical and easy-to-use. Keep your eye on the iPhone, too. One day it might be big.
Smartphones have something in common with cars, especially electric cars, and that something is software. Apple is one of the world's leading authorities on software, and applying that expertise to cars is less of a stretch than one might think.
Tesla, the world's leading electric car maker, recently demonstrated that, too. The company brought a significant performance increase to one of its cars through a software update.
Which brings us to the full quote BusinessInsider published from the person claiming to be an Apple employee:
Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up. I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.
To that end, he said that some top folks have left Tesla for Apple. My sources confirm this, while stipulating that Tesla is still doing just fine. In fact, if you look on LinkedIn, there are currently more Tesla employees who used to work at Apple than Apple employees who used to work at Tesla.
But Apple has always developed new products with a startup mentality. That means small teams with a great degree of freedom to do what needs to be done to make the best product possible.
We know from comments made by the late Steve Jobs and other Apple executives that very few products are given a green light. At the same time, once those products reach a certain phase in development, they almost always end up being released.
I don't know if Apple's car has reached that point—or if it will—but I am certain that Apple is working on one.