While the article doesn’t declare the iCar—the name chosen by most onlookers for Apple’s car—dead, it does suggest the iPhone maker is more open to collaboration with automakers.
The division has seen a few key changes and talent hires in the past 12 months. Apple veteran Bob Mansfield has taken over operations and Dan Dodge, the founder of operating system QNX, joined sometime in the past six months.
QNX is the operating system that powers a considerable amount of car infotainment systems. Apple is keen to expand in that area, after unveiling CarPlay last year.
AP’s source gives the impression the team wasn’t worried about the difficulty of building an automobile at the start, but as development grew, the issues started to become more visible. The automobile industry is highly regulated as well, another factor that soured Apple’s car goals.
A hardware business that Apple wants to leave?
The report says Apple might look to license the software to automakers, though that seems unlikely. Apple’s scripture declares that it must build the hardware, software, and services to provide a meaningful experience.
A more likely arrangement would be Apple partnering with a specific automaker that manufactures the car, following Apple’s design instructions. This would be a similar arrangement Apple has with Foxconn, which manufactures the iPhone and iPad.
Apple would then stuff the car with a self-driving system and infotainment and sell it.
Another option, one that might be prudent now that the European Union and other organizations are looking into Apple’s tax structure, could be an automotive acquisition.
It has enough money to purchase Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo and still have $75 billion on hand, if you take the three company’s market cap and add 10 percent. Apple hasn’t been the biggest spender in Silicon Valley however, so it would be a grand statement of where it’s future profits lie if it made a huge purchase in the next few years.