As any good Apple fan would know, Steve Jobs is the company’s co-founder and his storied and unfortunately short life is woven into the fabric of every great Apple product since the Apple I arrived in 1979.
All of Apple’s most triumphant products to date were a direct results of Steve Jobs executing on his flawless vision for some disruptive device. He gave us the Apple II, the Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Astronomical sales of these high margin products have resulted in Apple being one of the most valuable and rich companies in the world.
There is considerable evidence that Jobs loved cars and had dreamed of an Apple car. He died too soon to have seen this vision even enter the stage of product research, however it is widely believed his successor CEO Tim Cook has greenlighted the project.
It is interesting to take note of what we know Jobs said about the product to help focus our expectations on what one day it will actually be.
Information comes from Tony Fadell a former Apple executive who co-developed the iPod and the iPhone. He has gone on record through interviews with Bloomberg relaying his own thoughts as well as the discussion he and Jobs had about it when Fadell still worked at Apple in 2008
“We had a couple of walks,” Fadell said. He described hypothetical questions they asked each other like: “If we were to build a car, what would we build? What would a dashboard be? And what would this be? What would seats be? How would you fuel it or power it?”
That point in time was when the automotive market was crashing, along with the rest of the economy, and the project was not pursued. “The Detroit auto industry was almost dead,” said Fadell.. “It was fun to kick those ideas around.”
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, said in 2012 court testimony that executives discussed building a car even before it released the iPhone in 2007.
Since Jobs died in 2011 the economy and auto industry has rebounded and with it the Apple car project.
Building a car should not be too much of a stretch for Apple as Fadell notes cars are in some ways similar to iPhones. “A car has batteries; it has a computer; it has a motor; and it has mechanical structure. If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things. It even has a motor in it,” said Fadell. “But the hard stuff is really on the connectivity and how cars could be self-driving.”
Fadell now the Founder and CEO of Nest, owned by Alphabet, does not admit to any firsthand knowledge about Apple currently building a car, but he is sure when they do it will be game-changing.
“I think you’re going to see some dramatic changes in the way we think about these cars and the accessibility in terms of the price points,” Fadell said. “But we’re still seven to 10 years away from a mass switch-over.”