Is this Apple’s Car Project?

If you’re either a fan of cars or tech, you would hopefully have heard by now that Apple is looking into doing something with cars as the next major thing for the Cupertino company to take on. If not, then welcome to 2016.

I’ll start by saying that I believe I have figured out what Apple’s Car project is (or at least one they’d be considering seriously), but I could be wrong.

To start, let’s talk about the major news that has happened recently.

Didi Chuxing:

Apple has invested not even a week ago, US$1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing company called Didi Chuxing, and is believed to be a strategic investment to help them better understand the Chinese market.

Now you may be thinking, this sounds like Uber? And you’re exactly right.

Didi Chuxing and Uber are both essentially taxi services that use technology to help with booking systems, tracking cars and help with carpooling etc.

Didi Chuxing in China makes 11 million+ rides a day and own 87% of the market in China.

So I read this news and thought “That’s a weird investment, but OK.” But just a couple of days later, I think I’ve figured out what Apple is thinking, and these are my thoughts.

My Thoughts:

Didi Chuxing is an Uber competitor that dominates in China being a growing economy for Apple.

The roads in China are perhaps just as bad as everywhere else in the world, if not worse. China would benefit from a carpooling service like Didi Chuxing or Uber as much as any other country.

What I’m suggesting is Apple is perhaps trying to learn about a carpooling service on a grand-scale and see if they can bring competition to this space.

What I just described above completely contradicts Apple developing an actual car to sell outright.

Or does it?

I believe there are two major aspects to Apple’s car initiative and let me describe them briefly first.

Apple Van + Carpooling Service:

This would involve the following:

  • Apple develop their own van/people mover (likely be electric).
  • Apple create a carpooling service (start in U.S. and China).
  • Integrate the service into Apple Maps.
  • Request to be carpooled via Siri.
  • Ride is auto-debited from your iTunes balance or credit card linked up to iTunes, to make it easier when picking up and dropping off, which increases time for drivers to do more trips.
  • Carpooling Service can create/expand upon a new industry of creating jobs, like they did with the App Store.
  • Drivers can buy into the service, like you could buy into a franchise of a large retail chain, such as fast food stores.
  • Each van comes with Apple Music equipped for the driver to play what they want (ideally between picking up people).
  • Van equipped with a set of chargers for people to charge their phones (integrate a long-distance wireless charging station in each van, after they’ve announced support for smartphones/tablets).

It makes a lot of sense why Apple would be considering this and could very well be the answer to reducing road congestion/traffic, especially during peak hour.

During peak hour, how many cars do you see that only have 1 person in it? Now put all of those in multiple vans/people movers and the number of cars would significantly reduce.

Yes, it would need to be figured out in terms of a service of priority for each person, and to the door or end of the street etc.

Apple Car:

applecarconcept

Now this is what everyone is picturing at the moment (not necessarily this concept). Apple making their own electric car that can compete with Tesla, Faraday Future and many others.

I still have a hard time seeing people actually paying solid money for an Apple Car when you can get something like the Tesla Model 3, which is roughly AU$50k and does just about everything you think the Apple Car would be able to do.

But what would the Apple Car do that makes it unique compared to others.

  • Dashboard could very well be an expanded version of what CarPlay does currently.
  • Integrate a wireless charging station in each car to charge everyone’s phones at the same time (work’s within a 3-5 metre radius from the middle of the car).
  • Jimmy Iovine and others from Beats could help create the best sounding audio experience in a car, that works perfectly with Apple Music.
  • Integrate an Apple TV like system into the front seats for people in the back-passenger seats to view.

I also fear with all of these new electric cars coming out, all having different charges, but this should not be an issue if all of these major companies come up with a standard, like they have with USB-C.

Conclusion:

In short, I think Apple’s Car initiative is a 2 part solution. A normal car to compete with Tesla and others, and a carpooling service like Uber, which explains the investment in Didi Chuxing.

Obviously not everyone will buy into the carpooling service, but if some do, then Apple will hope to be able to reduce the following.

  • Road Congestion
  • CO2 Carbon Emissions.
  • Amount of Petrol/Electricity needed.
  • Number of cars produced that do not get much use.

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