Apple CEO Tim Cook touts Didi Chuxing's data gathering abilities, strong community ties

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 20
Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a profile of Didi Chuxing president Jean Liu as part of the "TIME 100 Most Influential People" special, offering insight into Apple's investment in the Chinese ride-hailing service.


Apple CEO Tim Cook meets with Didi president Jean Liu in 2016. | Source: Tim Cook via Twitter


In the brief writeup, Cook touts Liu as a peerless innovator who, with the help of Didi CEO Cheng Wei, created a convenient and flexible service that now serves tens of millions of commuters.

Beyond vanilla platitudes applicable to any ride-sharing service, Cook goes a bit further, lauding Didi's ability to harness burgeoning technology for the good of its customers. Gathering, analyzing and applying "big-data algorithms" to its backend services is apparently of particular interest to Cook.

"By analyzing commuter patterns the way oceanographers track the tides, Didi may help traffic jams go the way of the flip phone," Cook writes

Liu made similar allusions in a 2016 interview, when she said technology is a top priority for the company. She went on to comment on why Didi is a good fit for Apple. Beyond the iPhones and iPads Didi drivers use for mapping and vehicle management, the two companies share a common customer base, Liu said at the time.

Alongside Didi's commitment to leveraging cutting edge technology, the firm also has strong ties to the community, Cook said in the TIME profile.

"In over 400 cities across China, Jean has also built a company that is dedicated to serving the community around it," he writes. "Guiding Didi to this higher purpose, and giving back to the places where it does business, she shares my belief that companies can and should measure themselves by more than just the bottom line."

Cook's commentary offers unique insight into why Apple invested $1 billion in Didi last year, an unusual move for the tech giant who traditionally shies away from large direct investments. Beyond a potential strong return, Cook at the time said Apple's investment presents an opportunity to learn about the Chinese market and opens the door to future collaborations.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Didi in March opened a self-driving car lab in Mountain View, Calif., just a stone's throw from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,937member
    More Tim Cook brown nosing. 
    repressthis
  • Reply 2 of 13
    chasmchasm Posts: 229member
    seems to be working out well for him, though. What are you CEO of?
    sockrolidslprescottrepressthispatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,937member
    My home. 
    ireland
  • Reply 4 of 13
    calicali Posts: 2,974member
    Can't wait for this service to go worldwide.

    traffic going the way of the flip phone is interesting coming from Cook.
    sockrolidrepressthis
  • Reply 5 of 13
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,750member

    ... "Guiding Didi to this higher purpose, and giving back to the places where it does business, she shares my belief that companies can and should measure themselves by more than just the bottom line." ...
    Sounds like a great business model and also a great set of guiding principles.

    Looking at you, Uber.  Looking.  At.  You.
    calipscooter63repressthis
  • Reply 6 of 13
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 26,223member
    Using Didi as a proxy, it allows Apple to reap the benefits of Google-like data collection and analysis unavailable to them in the US. Clever.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 13
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,937member
    The key to reducing traffic and urban gridlock is to simply stop clustering in cities. With fast broadband available in most areas there's little reason to 
    centralize, most people own cars and mass transit is available but also strained in many areas. We humans do things that no longer make sense anymore outside the context of nostalgia. 


  • Reply 8 of 13
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 1,624moderator
    As I've been suggesting for a while...

    The car of the future is already here.  It's called a Smartphone.  Think about it.  If you were to clear the slate, look at the modern world and ask yourself, how would I design a transportation system given existing and soon-to-come technologies, like autonomous driving, real-time availability scheduling. Route optimization, etc, no way you'd conclude there should be a car, or two, in every garage.  You'd create a technology/software infrastructure to allow individuals to call up the transportation they need (car, truck, van, etc) on-demand.  And it would show up wherever they are, or wherever they are going to be, when it's needed.  You'd be able to schedule transportation in advance, like the airport shuttles of yesteryear that you'd schedule a week in advance. Über pretty much killed that business, I expect.  

    Or schedule recurring transportation, such as to take the kids to soccer practice and back.  In this case the transportation technology system might suggest a shared van service, that knows the schedules for local after school sports practice and offers up and constructs pick-up and drop-off routes based upon participation; a regular route to gather up the kids and deliver them.  Accommodation for security will be considered when children are being transported without accompanying parents, such as real-time tracking and a constant open line of communication, both audio and video streaming from the vehicle to parent's smartphones. 

    The specific vehicle that arrives can be determined by number of passengers, whether you'll be transporting something large or just yourself, etc.  The notion of owning, maintaining, accommodating parking requirements of, insuring, etc, a personal vehicle, for many people, has already begun to feel like 'the old paridigm.'  

    To create this infrastructure, you need route optimization software, that incorporates the real-time whereabouts of all vehicles in a local fleet. You need scheduling software.  You need to deal with remaining charge/range of each vehicle out in service to know when a vehicle can accommodate an additional requested or scheduled route without running out of juice.  You need to accommodate stand-by, where the vehicle drops someone off at a location and is requested to stand-by for an indeterminate time while the person goes into a store or bank to run an errand.  In short, you need a very sophisticated set of interacting technologies to accommodate smooth operation of a transportation network that provides near immediate responsiveness to a population's constantly fluctuating needs.

    If I were Tim Cook, this is exactly the way I'd envision the future, and this is what I'd set out to create.  It's not so much about constructing vehicles yourself, but about getting sign-in from all vehicle manufacturers such that their vehicles can work within the envisioned transportation network.  And that means that people who do own vehicles could lend them into their local autonomous transportation fleet in order to earn money (this has already been suggested by Musk and makes sense for a maker of vehicles to accommodate, as it helps him sell more Teslas direct to consumers).  It means that new rental fleets will simply be staged in large metro areas, with one or more depots that the vehicles come back to for recharging, maintenance, cleaning, etc.  And that means that there's a path forward for the rental companies, because they already have staging areas for their existing fleets.  The big picture can be accommodated during a transition phase from the world we have today to a world where almost all transportation is shared and autonomous.  

    Extend this to trucking, inter-city bussing, etc, and the whole thing becomes a future that Apple could play a major role in developing.  Without ever producing, on their own, a single vehicle.

    Also key to this is that everything Apple needs to do to revolutionize transportation does not require Apple to do any work on autonomous driving, nor does Apple need to build a single vehicle model.  Nope, Apple will want to own the end user interaction used to summon and schedule transportation, and it'll want to own the route optimization algorithms and server side scheduling and dispatch.  And take a cut of every ride.  

    There will need to be some tech in each car to pick up the user interaction that began on a rider's smartphone or Watch, once the car arrives to pick up the rider.  The car will need a voice interface to interact with the rider.  The car will need to constantly ping its whereabouts to the dispatch and scheduling servers, along with its charge level, so that the dispatch system can determine its next pick up and determine when it needs to exit the active fleet and return to a nearby depot for recharging or maintenance.  The car will need to contain sensors, like internal cameras, to monitor for left-behind packages, spilled coffee, etc, and report appropriately to riders or to dispatch.  The car will need streaming audio/video capabilities to stream to parents when children are riding without adult accompaniment.  All of this can be designed as a set of interfaces that automakers can implement in order to be compatible with Apple's dispatch and routing servers, and the vehicles might also be required to utilize Apple's mapping infrastructure.  

    Once verified as able to serve a ride request, the car is handed details on the location of the rider, and the rider's destination, and it can then utilize its own autonomous driving capabilities to serve the request.  And all of this can integrate both driverless and human driven vehicles into the same service.  So as vehicles are developed that are licensed for autonomous operation, these can be added to an existing Uber-like fleet of human driven vehicles, both serving together to form a centrally requested and directed/dispatched swarm serving a metrolitan area.  Eventually, the human driven vehicles would all be replaced with autonomous vehicles, and the future will have arrived

    calipscooter63patchythepiratehmurchisonyojimbo007
  • Reply 9 of 13
    What's this pattern of ex-moderators getting sour with Apple or AI?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    The key to reducing traffic and urban gridlock is to simply stop clustering in cities. With fast broadband available in most areas there's little reason to 
    centralize, most people own cars and mass transit is available but also strained in many areas. We humans do things that no longer make sense anymore outside the context of nostalgia. 


    However lots of people LIKE living in cities.  I agree that it isn't for everyone but many are attracted by the wider range of employment opportunities, cultural attractions and places to eat and drink that you get in cities compared to the country.

    "most people own cars" is a very N American point of view.  It certainly isn't true of many cities around the world.  In London, where I live, the majority of households don't own a car and the trend away from car ownership is increasing.  Public transport is pretty good and in most places there is a good range of things to do within a short distance and not being dependent on owning a car is actually an attraction for many.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,721member
    The key to reducing traffic and urban gridlock is to simply stop clustering in cities. With fast broadband available in most areas there's little reason to 
    centralize, most people own cars and mass transit is available but also strained in many areas. We humans do things that no longer make sense anymore outside the context of nostalgia. 
    It's actually the complete opposite: by having people cluster in cities, and then having all the amenities they need available within a few blocks (grocery store, hospital, school, restaurants, entertainment, etc), people no longer need cars.  I didn't own a car for 10 years living in the downtown core of Toronto, and it's the same in most major cities around the world.  The people who have nostalgia are the ones who believe that the suburban dream of every family having a big house, big yard, two cars, etc is sustainable.  The vast majority of the traffic in downtown cores is caused by the people coming in from the suburbs to work (not all jobs can be done remotely), go to restaurants/entertainment/sporting events, etc.
    edited April 21 charlesatlas
  • Reply 12 of 13
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 11,937member
    What's this pattern of ex-moderators getting sour with Apple or AI?
    I still bleed six colors.  I just get tired of the China and India flagellation from Cupertino and the Tech Press.   I think we all realize the economic potential of countries with population > Billion people.  

    @Redhanded  glad to see the move away from cars.  Ustados Unidos will be a tougher nut to crack. I have neighbors with 9 vehicles (not all running) on their property.  I'm a believer in the future that @radarthekat speaks of. 

    @Auxio  I think that city living is great I'm more concerned with companies in the US that virtually ignore rural areas that then must be subsidized
  • Reply 13 of 13
    As I've been suggesting for a while...

    The car of the future is already here.  It's called a Smartphone.  Think about it.  If you were to clear the slate, look at the modern world and ask yourself, how would I design a transportation system given existing and soon-to-come technologies, like autonomous driving, real-time availability scheduling. Route optimization, etc, no way you'd conclude there should be a car, or two, in every garage.  You'd create a technology/software infrastructure to allow individuals to call up the transportation they need (car, truck, van, etc) on-demand.  And it would show up wherever they are, or wherever they are going to be, when it's needed.  You'd be able to schedule transportation in advance, like the airport shuttles of yesteryear that you'd schedule a week in advance. Über pretty much killed that business, I expect.  

    Or schedule recurring transportation, such as to take the kids to soccer practice and back.  In this case the transportation technology system might suggest a shared van service, that knows the schedules for local after school sports practice and offers up and constructs pick-up and drop-off routes based upon participation; a regular route to gather up the kids and deliver them.  Accommodation for security will be considered when children are being transported without accompanying parents, such as real-time tracking and a constant open line of communication, both audio and video streaming from the vehicle to parent's smartphones. 

    The specific vehicle that arrives can be determined by number of passengers, whether you'll be transporting something large or just yourself, etc.  The notion of owning, maintaining, accommodating parking requirements of, insuring, etc, a personal vehicle, for many people, has already begun to feel like 'the old paridigm.'  

    To create this infrastructure, you need route optimization software, that incorporates the real-time whereabouts of all vehicles in a local fleet. You need scheduling software.  You need to deal with remaining charge/range of each vehicle out in service to know when a vehicle can accommodate an additional requested or scheduled route without running out of juice.  You need to accommodate stand-by, where the vehicle drops someone off at a location and is requested to stand-by for an indeterminate time while the person goes into a store or bank to run an errand.  In short, you need a very sophisticated set of interacting technologies to accommodate smooth operation of a transportation network that provides near immediate responsiveness to a population's constantly fluctuating needs.

    If I were Tim Cook, this is exactly the way I'd envision the future, and this is what I'd set out to create.  It's not so much about constructing vehicles yourself, but about getting sign-in from all vehicle manufacturers such that their vehicles can work within the envisioned transportation network.  And that means that people who do own vehicles could lend them into their local autonomous transportation fleet in order to earn money (this has already been suggested by Musk and makes sense for a maker of vehicles to accommodate, as it helps him sell more Teslas direct to consumers).  It means that new rental fleets will simply be staged in large metro areas, with one or more depots that the vehicles come back to for recharging, maintenance, cleaning, etc.  And that means that there's a path forward for the rental companies, because they already have staging areas for their existing fleets.  The big picture can be accommodated during a transition phase from the world we have today to a world where almost all transportation is shared and autonomous.  

    Extend this to trucking, inter-city bussing, etc, and the whole thing becomes a future that Apple could play a major role in developing.  Without ever producing, on their own, a single vehicle.

    Also key to this is that everything Apple needs to do to revolutionize transportation does not require Apple to do any work on autonomous driving, nor does Apple need to build a single vehicle model.  Nope, Apple will want to own the end user interaction used to summon and schedule transportation, and it'll want to own the route optimization algorithms and server side scheduling and dispatch.  And take a cut of every ride.  

    There will need to be some tech in each car to pick up the user interaction that began on a rider's smartphone or Watch, once the car arrives to pick up the rider.  The car will need a voice interface to interact with the rider.  The car will need to constantly ping its whereabouts to the dispatch and scheduling servers, along with its charge level, so that the dispatch system can determine its next pick up and determine when it needs to exit the active fleet and return to a nearby depot for recharging or maintenance.  The car will need to contain sensors, like internal cameras, to monitor for left-behind packages, spilled coffee, etc, and report appropriately to riders or to dispatch.  The car will need streaming audio/video capabilities to stream to parents when children are riding without adult accompaniment.  All of this can be designed as a set of interfaces that automakers can implement in order to be compatible with Apple's dispatch and routing servers, and the vehicles might also be required to utilize Apple's mapping infrastructure.  

    Once verified as able to serve a ride request, the car is handed details on the location of the rider, and the rider's destination, and it can then utilize its own autonomous driving capabilities to serve the request.  And all of this can integrate both driverless and human driven vehicles into the same service.  So as vehicles are developed that are licensed for autonomous operation, these can be added to an existing Uber-like fleet of human driven vehicles, both serving together to form a centrally requested and directed/dispatched swarm serving a metrolitan area.  Eventually, the human driven vehicles would all be replaced with autonomous vehicles, and the future will have arrived

    Copied and pasted in my notes... thanks !:)
    radarthekat
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