Even if Apple is working on a car, Tim Cook says hiring doesn't reflect commitment

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was expectedly noncommittal when asked about the prospect of an Apple-built car in a new interview, but he did indicate that hiring efforts are not necessarily evidence that a project is a sure thing.

Inside a Google self-driving car.
Inside a Google self-driving car.


"So I can't talk about this certain area that you're talking about," Cook said when asked about the so-called Apple Car by Fortune. "But when we start spending large amounts of money, we're committed at that point. But we explore things with teams of people. And that's a part of being curious. Part of exploring technologies and picking the right one is becoming so familiar with it you can see ways that it can be used."

Apple is thought to have hundreds of people working on a vehicle under the "Project Titan" moniker. Cook claimed, however, that teams of that size didn't constitute spending "gobs of money," at least from Apple's perspective.

The company is believed to have multiple car-related facilities located in Sunnyvale, Calif., and reports have indicated that Apple could launch an electric car as soon as 2019 or 2020. The first model may or may not be self-driving, though Apple is at least thought to be working on the technology for subsequent vehicles.

Executives with the company reportedly flew to Austria recently, looking to meet with contract manufacturers including Magna Steyr, a unit of Canada's Magna International. While Apple could conceivably afford its own car factories, building up the needed infrastructure would likely be not just expensive but outside its expertise, and extremely conspicuous, tipping off the public and competitors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    irelandireland Posts: 17,771member
    These are not the droids you're looking for. 
    brucemc
  • Reply 2 of 24
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
     The first model may or may not be self-driving
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    calitallest skilnolamacguy
  • Reply 3 of 24
    pmz said:
     The first model may or may not be self-driving
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    You do know that self-driving cars are a real thing, right?
    bdkennedy1002techprod1gy
  • Reply 4 of 24
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    pmz said:
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    You do know that self-driving cars are a real thing, right?
    So what? What does that have anything to do with real world adoption? This is exactly what I'm talking about. The Tech Blog Hounds have followed the progression of self-driving car projects to the point of maturity, and then just assume, whelp, thats it, just a matter of time now before they're everywhere. Nope. Not how it works.
    calilkrupp
  • Reply 5 of 24
    pmz said:
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    You do know that self-driving cars are a real thing, right?
    I think the delusion is that we will all be riding around in self driving cars in 30 years. They will be there, but as rare as Ferrari's are today.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 6 of 24
    ronmgronmg Posts: 163member
    Wow, some serious naysayers here. Why is it so hard to believe in more intelligent cars? I agree that the full-fledged 'self-driving' car where no one is sitting in the driver's seat is way in the future, but there is so much that could be done prior to that. My 4-year-old Hyundai Genesis has the adaptive cruise control, and it's great. I use it, but I also don't rely on it. But it is a useful tool, as is the current Genesis emergency stopping and limited self-steering capabilities. As I use my 4-year-old adaptive cruise, I often think how nice it would be to identify that the upcoming stop sign means I need to stop, and for the car to come to a stop even if a car is not in front of me coming to a stop as well. And then, on top of that, when I am at a full stop, to see that it is clear for me to proceed ahead. Think at how useful this could be. Sure, I would hit the brakes myself if I see a fast moving car approaching from the side that I can tell will not stop. Can't trust the self-driving features until EVERYONE is using them, for as long as humans are driving there will be screw ups. But having features that know where and when to stop and then proceed automatically would be terrific convenience to have, and I can see Apple putting a lot of that into a car.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,797member
    pmz said:
     The first model may or may not be self-driving
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    Well, you can't really blame them for their optimism given the ubiquity of autonomous trains, planes and ships.  Since society has fully accepted these autonomous technologies, cars shouldn't be far behind, right?

    /s
    tallest skil
  • Reply 8 of 24
    pmz said:
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    You do know that self-driving cars are a real thing, right?
    Precisely what I'm thinking. I've driven audi q7 (autonomous driving below 27mph), 2016 civic ex (active lane assist) and tested model S and i can tell ya one thing, its coming sooner than most people realize (i'd think most mid-tier sedans should have this feature in next 2 years).
    jony0
  • Reply 9 of 24
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    ronmg said:
    Wow, some serious naysayers here. Why is it so hard to believe in more intelligent cars? I agree that the full-fledged 'self-driving' car where no one is sitting in the driver's seat is way in the future, but....
    There is no but. There are "smarter" production vehicles on the road every year. Thats not the conversation.

    We're literally talking self-driving cars, and the delusion that they will be anything resembling mainstream anytime in the foreseeable future.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    I cannot predict the future but here are some thoughts. We already are seeing a phase of autonomous driving cars. This phase is augmented. Basically smart features that help us travel safer. There are already autonomous vehicles in public. Yes they have to have a person behind the wheel but the technology is capable of driving in a very safe fashion. I see this being used in public transportation of some sort first. In order to handle all types of driving conditions there is a lot of work left to do. The big question will be how fast will the government support this effort? Will they assist in moving this forward or be a major roadblock? I am not sure yet. The possibilities of traffic control and safety in general make this something we owe it to ourselves to make sure it succeeds. Does that mean everyone? Not initially. But I could see a future where future generation look back and say "my grandparents had to drive their own cars". Just wait. It will happen in most of our lifetimes.
    cornchip
  • Reply 11 of 24
    SpamSandwich said:
    You do know that self-driving cars are a real thing, right?
    Was it mdriftmeyer who said that we’re 20 years away from them, minimum. Someone said something like that...
  • Reply 12 of 24
    In the future....

    He used to be part of a ventriloquist act, but after becoming sentient, he quit and got a job with uber.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    ronmg said:
    Wow, some serious naysayers here. Why is it so hard to believe in more intelligent cars? I agree that the full-fledged 'self-driving' car where no one is sitting in the driver's seat is way in the future, but there is so much that could be done prior to that. My 4-year-old Hyundai Genesis has the adaptive cruise control, and it's great. I use it, but I also don't rely on it. But it is a useful tool, as is the current Genesis emergency stopping and limited self-steering capabilities. As I use my 4-year-old adaptive cruise, I often think how nice it would be to identify that the upcoming stop sign means I need to stop, and for the car to come to a stop even if a car is not in front of me coming to a stop as well. And then, on top of that, when I am at a full stop, to see that it is clear for me to proceed ahead. Think at how useful this could be. Sure, I would hit the brakes myself if I see a fast moving car approaching from the side that I can tell will not stop. Can't trust the self-driving features until EVERYONE is using them, for as long as humans are driving there will be screw ups. But having features that know where and when to stop and then proceed automatically would be terrific convenience to have, and I can see Apple putting a lot of that into a car.
    That's EXACTLY what the "naysayers" are saying.

    It would be super smart for Apple to introduce an electric car with hundreds of sensors that process activity, environment, weather, speed, habits, signals, electricity, reaction time, steering, pedal and brake force etc. as much as possible. Gather all data anbd LATER develop a self driving vehicle. This would be the safest, easiest, most economical way to go anbout it.

    These articles are talking as if a self driving AppleCar will be on the market the next time you shop.
    cornchip
  • Reply 14 of 24
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    Autonomous cars will probably cause more accidents than you might expect once they become commonplace. Macho road-ragers hate drivers who obey the speed limit. They will dangerously and illegally pass them while honking and flipping them off thus causing an accident or running over a pedestrian in the process. Where I live 99% of the people on the road drive over the speed limit. Anyone who doesn't literally creates a hazardous situation by driving slower than the prevailing speed of other cars.
    cornchip
  • Reply 15 of 24
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,871member
    volcan said:
    Autonomous cars will probably cause more accidents than you might expect once they become commonplace. Macho road-ragers hate drivers who obey the speed limit. They will dangerously and illegally pass them while honking and flipping them off thus causing an accident or running over a pedestrian in the process. Where I live 99% of the people on the road drive over the speed limit. Anyone who doesn't literally creates a hazardous situation by driving slower than the prevailing speed of other cars.

    Possibly... I mean that's a little extreme, but the unwritten speed limit here in TN on basically any 4+ lane road is ~70mph. Except Nashville. Everyone seems to drive the speed limit. It's very weird visiting there.

    Also, interesting to possibly only myself, but I have a good friend who is a JAG and I've been discussing the whole security saga with him and he mentioned a couple interesting things the other day. He said he heard an Army security expert give a lecture and had a couple key takeaways: 1) Yes, Apple is the most secure and hardest to get info out of, hack etc. 2) NEVER sync your phone to a car and especially not a rental because essentially all your personal info is going out the sunroof to who-knows-who's servers, who-knows-where for who-knows-what purpose. I immediately thought "no wonder Apple wants to make a car".

    Just throwin' it out there.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    Only Apple really knows what their intentions are in this space, and I would waver even Apple hasn't determined it exactly.  

    But I like making predictions as much as the next guy, so my views:
    - If an Apple Car, it will not be self-driving to begin with. I am not a naysayer on the technology's progress & eventual capabilities, but the infrastructure / regulatory / legal / insurance hurdles to cross to make this something an average person can purchase in multiple countries (not just in say a few cities), is many years away.
    - Apple will not target "transportation as a service" and compete with Uber / Lyft.  A car itself is pretty far away from Apple's existing business & expertise, but at least it is a "product" that you sell to the buyer, many people spend hours in them and can integrate to the Apple ecosystem, & a huge part of Apple's success is that in consumer business the buyer & user are the same.  Building out a service, where the end user doesn't own the product, and doesn't have an emotional attachment to it, and doesn't necessarily value it, is light years from Apple's business & reasons for success.  And that is without getting into the fact that Uber itself is having quite a battle globally with the local taxi industries, with a PR headache that is getting bigger all the time, and I am sure Apple wants no part of that.  While Transportation-a-a-S is for certain going grow & will reduce the growth of car ownership, the majority of vehicles will continue to be purchased for many decades to come.
    - If an Apple Car, I do expect that it will be electric drive train, but we have to be honest about the state of the industry & the market to sell them.  After about 10 years of having viable electric cars, I think there are only about 500K total (or less) on the roads in the US.  It is not a big market (yet).  Apple might be about to enter it at the right time of course as it starts to take off (and Apple could be a hugely positive catalyst to make them take off), but lots of work remains. 
    - What can Apple bring to a car product that will make a difference?  Is advanced integration between smartphone, watch & car enough?  I just purchased a 2016 unit, and while the entertainment & control package is good, it could be much better.  Make it more flexible to switch somehow from personal space, to family space, to work space?  Making an iconic design?  Build it out of new materials that while expensive at first, provide them with better margins in a few years, thus making an impact in a few years?

    Definitely interesting space.
    cornchip
  • Reply 17 of 24
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    cornchip said:

    but the unwritten speed limit here in TN on basically any 4+ lane road is ~70mph. Except Nashville. Everyone seems to drive the speed limit. It's very weird visiting there.
    I have more issues with impatient drivers on city streets where many people are driving 60-70+ in a 40 mph zone. The Interstate doesn't have as many unpredictable variables as in town. I recently slowed down to a crawl for a pedestrian crossing in a parking lot. There was a speed bump there also. The driver behind me must have thought I was being overly cautious about the speed bump because he couldn't see the pedestrian due to my tall SUV. He then angrily pulled around me actually smoking the tires and bouncing on the speed bump, only to realize at the last second there was someone crossing the street and he had to slam on the brakes at the last second.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 18 of 24
    What I think Tim Cook is saying under his breath is not only can Apple patent and institute some substantial changes to driving a vehicle but more notably; if we came up with these options, is there the type of margin we would be looking for???

    Profitability is what Tim Cook is really looking to find.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,716member
    pmz said:
    Can we please just put an end to this nonsense? Apple is not releasing a self-driving car in the next 30 years, because Apple releases products that actual people will actually use in the real world.

    I'm so sick of tech-blogosphere's delusion over self-driving cars.
    You do know that self-driving cars are a real thing, right?
    And we’ve had self flying airplanes for decades but every flight has a pilot and co-pilot. Passenger trains are basically self-driving but still have an engineer. Why? Because the public will simply not accept the idea of a machine in control. We want a human being (necessary or not) in the driver/pilot seat.

    Bottom line is we’ve bought into Google’s vaporware concept car and think it’s right around the corner. It isn’t.
    tallest skilcornchip
  • Reply 20 of 24
    Maybe, eventually. I have self-parking feature, but it doesn't mean I use it. If self-driving actualize, it will be an option, and one that will be rarely used. Apple is best to just create a "device" with car OS that acts as a "brain" - similar to AppleTV in which Apple does not make the TV itself.
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