These days, almost anyone and everyone has an idea for one form of car or another, be it simply an “augmented” car with sophisticated infotainment systems or a full-blown completely autonomous car. But nearly a decade ago, those ideas would have been novel, revolutionary, and almost heretical. In short, it would have been a perfect Apple product. Tony Fadell, then Apple SVP and collaborator on the iPod and iPhone, revealed that the late Steve Jobs thought as much. Perhaps luckily for us, they decided to focus on the iPhone instead.
It seems almost strange that Apple would want to get into cars. The same could be said of Google and yet the world already knows the search giant’s plans. Fadell says that a hi-tech, smart car wouldn’t really differ much from a mobile device if you think hard enough. Both have batteries, computers, and some motor. Of course, that is largely an exaggeration, as Google would perhaps be able to confirm.
But Apple’s focus wouldn’t exactly be on the car innards itself. It would be more on the technology, especially the communication aspects. Fadell, who now heads Alphabet’s Nest smart appliances, recalls brainstorming with Jobs in 2008 about such details, like the car’s dashboard, fuel, and even seats. Former Apple executives also revealed that the idea of an “iCar” was bounced around even earlier than that, earlier than the iPhone itself. If so, then what happened to the idea?
Apple, especially the Apple under Jobs, wasn’t known for spreading its resources thin over a diverse portfolio of products. Like what some productivity gurus advise, saying no is key to remaining sane. Apple chose to hedge its bets on the iPhone back then, at a time when the auto industry wasn’t exactly at its peak. History would prove that it chose well.
Apple hasn’t completely closed the doors to that idea either. If recent rumors, leaks, and movements are any indicator, Apple might indeed be gearing up for such a product that goes beyond a simple CarPlay infotainment presence inside cars. Indeed, the company has seemingly been building up its portfolio, not to mention its employees, to make such a future possible.