By Kurt Knutsson
The $42M Tesla’s Elon Musk forked over to buy an old Toyota factory as part of his plan to take on the entire legacy automobile industry seems like chump change compare to the new threat. Apple is last reported to have $178B in free wheeling cash on hand. You can do a lot with that fat wallet. Apple is getting into the electric car game or at least thinking very seriously about it. When and if they do, Apple will embark with free will toward taking on Telsa and the entire legacy automobile industry.
Think about it. That makes complete sense given the fact that yes, they’ve got deep pockets. A car is now almost as much technology as it is wheels for transportation. This year’s CES reported record growth in automotive exhibitors snuggling next to major consumer electronic brands.
The car industry knows that tech is as big at play for innovation as it is for customer expectation. And why shouldn’t Apple head to Detroit without ever leaving California to turn the auto industry on its head? If they do, we’ll all soon enough realize that what we drive today is nothing more than what our obsolete flip phone became the moment the iPhone was born to planet earth.
All it took for me to start believe in the idea of the Apple Car is the response from the Apple folks I’ve known intimately for years saying “it’s a decline comment on rumor and speculation.” When something printed about Apple starts to get traction their snap PR team knows to grab the extinguisher issuing a statement denying or clarifying what tangent the media has started to own. That only happens when its not true. And the thing about my smart friends who run Apple that I do know for certain, is that every move is deliberate, meaningful and very often profound.
That got me feeling more certain that Apple CEO Tim Cook is doing a lot more than thinking about cars. A year ago he authorized R&D to start on an Apple-branded electric car of its own under the code word “Titan” according to the WSJ. They’ve tapped Apple VP Steve Zadesky who came to Cupertino from Ford in 1999 to take charge of the effort and who’s picked and poached 1,000 people to work toward the future Apple ride.
I don’t need a psychic for the other signs. This past September Apple hires the North American president at Mercedes-Benz Research, Johann Jungwirth, around the same time Apple’s lead industrial designer Jony Ive who is arguably the most important visionary at the empire Steve Jobs built, lassos his friend and fellow genius designer Marc Newson to join the Apple ranks. Its no coincidence that Newson has already designed a Ford prototype back in 1999 that sits inside London’s Design Museum.
The Apple culture knows how to reinvent anything we use every day in life better than anyone else. In fact, I’m not convinced that I can identify any other company in the world that thinks deeply enough beyond their last or next wall street performance to see the value in patience, and exploring their own curiosity in order to make a revolutionary move that Apple finds itself more and more comfortable doing.
I’m nodding with a smile knowing Apple could do to the car industry what they did with the walkman, record stores, and every mobile phone on the planet when they created the iPod and then the iPhone and iPad.
They can. And frankly, chances are you and I will look back in a few years while standing in long lines to buy the first Apple Car glancing over at the old hunk of junk your other car has become overnight.