Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is looking for another ringer. It had its “iPhone,” “iPad,” and “MacBook” booms; the “Apple Watch” sputter; and now needs some game changing new product. Enter the “Apple Car.” Only, no one is really sure if it exists.
The mystery surrounding the Apple car is a mixture of concrete fact, tacit rumors, and sheer guessing. First, you have a number of reports claiming that, in fact, the Apple car does not exist or, at least, Apple is not constructing a physical vehicle. Rather, it plans to produce systems that can then run a self-driving car. (Source: “Apple may not be building a self-driving car, but it sure cares a lot about rules for self-driving cars,” Recode, December 3, 2016.)
Then you have Apple’s most recent letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with a number of suggestions on how smart cars should be regulated, even though Apple is still supposedly not actually working on a physical Apple car.
Here’s Recode‘s take:
The letter, written by Steve Kenner, Apple’s director of product integrity, calls on regulators to treat new players the same as established automakers when they want to test self-driving cars, in order to “create a fair environment for all companies to make progress toward automated vehicles.”
Apple, which Kenner wrote is looking forward to “collaborating with other stakeholders to deﬁne the speciﬁc data that should be shared,” also expressed concern over securing the privacy of its consumers’ data and suggested that other companies should be investing resources into doing so.
The letter goes as far as to advocate that companies that are producing self-driving vehicles should pool their data on crashes and near-misses in order to help the system develop much faster.
The question on everybody’s mind, however, is if the Apple car is really just an algorithm and not a physical metal transport.
With iPhone sales falling in developing markets and the need for another game changing product to justify Apple’s market share, the Apple car just may be that item. That is, if there is, in fact, an Apple car.