Steve Jobs considered an 'Apple Car' in 2008, iPod creator remembers

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited November 2015
The idea of a so-called 'Apple Car' has been gestating within the company for some time, as former iPod chief and Nest CEO Tony Fadell revealed that Steve Jobs toyed with the idea back in 2008.


Cars driven by Apple executives.


Not long after the introduction of the first iPhone, Jobs considered what an Apple-built automobile might offer, Fadell said in an interview with Bloomberg. The two allegedly held multiple discussions about how they envisioned such a product, but nothing official began when Fadell was still at Apple.

Hypothetical questions that arose between Jobs and Fadell included the design of an "iCar's" dashboard and seats, and what would be used to fuel the vehicle.

"It was fun to kick those ideas around," Fadell said.

Of course, an "Apple Car" wasn't the only concept on the table at the company at the time. Fadell said that Apple also looked into building television sets and cameras before opting to focus its energy on the iPhone.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller revealed much of the same information in a courtroom testimony in 2012, when he revealed that the success of the iPod, partially spearheaded by Fadell, changed the feeling within the company, giving executives and employees a sense of confidence that they could shake things up. Schiller said the iPod prompted people to discuss what industry the company could shake up next.

"Make a camera, make a car, crazy stuff," Schiller said.

Rumors have persisted throughout 2015 suggesting that an "Apple Car" is the Cupertino company's next major new product category. It's been speculated that Apple is looking to develop a self-driving automobile to compete with other projects currently in the works from traditional automakers, as well as Tesla, Google, and even Uber.

AppleInsider exclusively reported earlier this year that the bulk of "Project Titan" development is underway at a secretive facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., known by the code-name "SG5." Evidence suggests that a shell company known as SixtyEight Research may be a cover for Apple to help conceal its true operations at the Sunnyvale garage.

Apple is said to have an internal target ship date of 2019 for its electric car project, but rumors claim the first-generation model won't be a self driving vehicle. The project is said to have 600 people currently working on it, but those in charge have reportedly been given the go-ahead to triple the size of the team to 1,800 personnel.

As for Fadell, after playing an instrumental role in bringing the iPod to market, he and former Apple engineer Matt Rogers went on to cofound Nest Labs, best known for the company's smart home thermostat. Nest and Apple had a close partnership that fell apart in 2014, when Google acquired the company for $3.2 billion.

Earlier this year, a reorganization within Google placed Fadell in charge of the company's wearable Glass project. Fadell also remains in charge of Nest, which is now separate from Google under the parent company of Alphabet.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    It was nuts to spend that much for a thermostat company and Google should've gotten kicked in the teeth by Wall Street.
  • Reply 2 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    iPod creator? I think Jon Rubenstein would have a few things to say about that. Wasn't the iPod already in development when Fadell was hired? I'm sure Steve had lots of "what if" conversations with Apple executives.

    I've always wondered why Tony Fadell wasn't given the devices engineering job and Steve hired Mark Papermaster instead. And once Papermaster left iOS devices were put under Bob Mansfield. Was there bad blood? Did Steve think he wasn't the right guy for the job?
  • Reply 3 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    It was nuts to spend that much for a thermostat company and Google should've gotten kicked in the teeth by Wall Street.

    Not much different than spending $3B on a headphone company. :p
  • Reply 4 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    sog35 wrote: »
    sure bob. A head phone company that makes over $1B in annual sales with high margins.  Plus a streaming platform with the best curation in the business.  Beats will pay for itself in 3 years.

    Haha...I like you better when you're pissed (and honest). ;)
  • Reply 5 of 46
    sog35 wrote: »
    sure bob. A head phone company that makes over $1B in annual sales with high margins.  Plus a streaming platform with the best curation in the business.  Beats will pay for itself in 3 years.

    Let me know when the streaming service is profitable. Or heck, let me know when it contributes significantly to Apple's business.

    Honestly, the fact that WOZ is for self driving cars reinforces my feelings that they're a stupid idea and that I'd prefer they fail.
  • Reply 6 of 46
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    Yup. As much as they say the ?Watch was Tim Cooks first product developed on his own, Jobs was certainly already involved in the planning stages before he died as they had just released 17 new watch faces for the iPod nano, which people had been wearing as a watch.

    It will be interesting to see how similar the ?Car may be to Jobs' concepts and ideas if it ever comes to market. My guess is that Apple has a few more years before they run out of ideas Steve Jobs initiated.
  • Reply 7 of 46
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogifan
    "iPod creator? I think Jon Rubenstein would have a few things to say about that. Wasn't the iPod already in development when Fadell was hired? "

    No, Rubenstein only found the pocket HD in China. Fadell wanted an MP3 player grouped with a store. Schiller came up with the click wheel. Thus the iPod was born.
  • Reply 8 of 46
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,359member
    Let me know when the streaming service is profitable. Or heck, let me know when it contributes significantly to Apple's business.

    Honestly, the fact that WOZ is for self driving cars reinforces my feelings that they're a stupid idea and that I'd prefer they fail.
    I admit the WOZ thing worries me ;)
  • Reply 9 of 46
    Let me know when the streaming service is profitable. Or heck, let me know when it contributes significantly to Apple's business.

    Honestly, the fact that WOZ is for self driving cars reinforces my feelings that they're a stupid idea and that I'd prefer they fail.

    Could turn out that Americans will never be comfortable with completely autonomous vehicles, but driver assistance will certainly continue to improve to the point where almost all collisions will become avoidable.
  • Reply 10 of 46
    I wish Apple redesigns the bicycle; it's a market that has been asleep for decades, with "innovations" limited to lighter weight, brighter headlights, etc. these are lazy evolutionary items. In my opinion, as a bicyclist, current bicycles are unfinished, clunky products, where everything on them is an afterthought. The headlights are optional attachments, that can be easily unscrewed, stolen, or just fall off; the chain and gear system is ancient, dirty, and a service hog; pannier systems are also easily stolen; even the seat and the wheel are odd, when I chain my bike I have to chain the seat as well. Someone needs to rethink the bicycle, and I hope it's Apple.

    BTW, I am aware there are several efforts out there but, in my opinion, they're just more of the same.
  • Reply 11 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    sog35 wrote: »
    The streaming business is about strengthing the ecosystem and customer retention.  Its not about profits AT THIS POINT.  Just like the AppStore wasn't about profits the first few years it came out.  But it is definitely adding value to Apple.  The Beats hardware business will probably net close to $1B this year. In five years the profits from the hardware division will pay for the entire acquisition.

    What was the point of the acquisition though? You can't tell me Apple needed Beats to stand up a streaming music service. That's just nonsense. A good streaming music service doesn't need a music industry hustler like Jimmy Iovine.
  • Reply 12 of 46
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    A good streaming music service doesn't need a music industry hustler like Jimmy Iovine.

     

    I don't disagree, but it seems reasonable to expect some explanation to back up such a black & white statement.

  • Reply 13 of 46
    rogifan wrote: »
    Not much different than spending $3B on a headphone company. :p

    which made a billion dollars last year, and literally plugs into apple's #1 product. seems like a pretty good move to me. earpods and beats are the two most recognizable headphones on the planet.
  • Reply 14 of 46
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    Could turn out that Americans will never be comfortable with completely autonomous vehicles, but driver assistance will certainly continue to improve to the point where almost all collisions will become avoidable.



    IMO it's not a question of "if", but only "when". And everyone feels uncomfortable with this right now. Once the tech and infrastructure is there, people will adapt. As they did when engines replaced horses, and people started flying in the air, etc.

  • Reply 15 of 46
    wow that'd be pretty cool to have a apple car.
  • Reply 16 of 46
    wow that'd be pretty cool to have a apple car.
  • Reply 17 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    sog35 wrote: »
    Look at iRadio and tell me Apple didn't need help.  Iovine/Dre gave Apple instant credibility in the industry.

    $3B was a small price to pay to get a cash cow in the Beats hardware business and a quick start with AppleMusic.  Without Beats Apple would have taken at least 12-24 months longer to release the service.  Apple was already behind and could not risk being left totally behind.

    What is iRadio?
  • Reply 18 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I don't disagree, but it seems reasonable to expect some explanation to back up such a black & white statement.

    http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2015/10/01/jimmy-iovine-2/
  • Reply 19 of 46



    What did Google pay for a cellphone company? Was it $8 billion, so the could sell it to a Chinese company for $3 billion?  Then they bought a tiny overpriced thermostat company, that competes with Honeywell and dozens of other market leaders, that also offer smart thermostats.

  • Reply 20 of 46
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,928member
    hockeydad wrote: »

    What did Google pay for a cellphone company? Was it $8 billion, so the could sell it to a Chinese company for $3 billion?  
    Except they didn't sell what they bought for $8B for just $3B.

    They sold off the cable box business separately for a pretty good price, kept all the IP they bought with Moto including any patent applications, kept the half-billion cash that came with the Moto purchase and used a good part of the accrued tax credits from them to reduce their own taxes.
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