Recently, an interesting question appeared on Quora (a website that allows various insightful people to provide “the best answer to any question”). It read:
How big a threat is an Apple car to Tesla?
You can click here to read a myriad of responses.
CTO of Columbia Ventures Corp., Stan Hanks, most viewed writer in Quora’s “Cars and Automobiles” category, provided an answer that made its way into a story in Forbes.
Hanks believes that the Apple Car will be a true threat. His answer establishes that Apple will be a threat because they’re Apple, and that’s what they do. Apple bases everything on user experience and services. Hanks explains:
“That’s why, for the last year, Apple design boss Jony Ive has living in a chauffeured Bently. Not because he’s rich as Croesus and can afford it, but because he needs to understand what it’s like to be driven, versus driving. To experience in depth what it would be like to use a car that you don’t drive yourself. He’s sampling the nuances, taking in the data, distilling it—and I guarantee will produce a completely different user experience, much richer and deeper and more satisfying than any other competitor ‘autonomous vehicle’ project in development.”
Competition already builds cars. The systems are all in place at the big automakers and Tesla is surely putting everything in place very quickly because the company has no other choice. The focus in the auto industry is on engineering, performance, marketing, and advertising. Tesla, while hitting on some of these, is all about innovation and being different. Apple will be the first significant company to come along in the market with similar strategies.
Hanks says that the Apple Car, similar to the iPhone and iPod, will provide a whole new person-to-car relationship. Neither product broke ground or was “brand new” or “never seen before”. However, both products disrupted the market as we all knew it. The iPod and the iPhone completely changed the way that we buy music due to the iTunes revolution. Who would have known that CDs, the newest and best portable music technology of the time, would become obsolete?
He doesn’t see Apple products as far superior or above and beyond other technology. But the products are stable, user-friendly, and the services that come with the products are unmatched. Apple Pay has gained incredible momentum in a few short years. Tim Cook announced:
“The reach of Apple Pay also continues to expand following a very successful launch in China in the March quarter and last week’s rollout in Singapore. Apple Pay is growing at a tremendous rate, with more than five times the transaction volume of a year ago and 1 million new users per week. There are more than 10 million contactless-ready locations in the countries where Apple Pay has launched to date, including over 2.5 million locations now accepting Apple Pay in the United States, and more expansion of Apple Pay is coming soon.”
The car is simply a receptacle or another screen. It is the physical storage unit for all of the immense and exclusive services that Apple will be able to fill it with; services that people are already using, familiar with, and fond of. Add to this new services, apps, and software and link them all together under the Apple umbrella and the possibilities could become seemingly endless.
As the industry becomes about the services and the technology, instead of the vehicle itself, Apple can become a key player, especially against the likes of Tesla and other tech-based auto innovators. Hanks jokes:
“I personally think that everyone in the auto industry should be scared out of the pants right now. Except maybe Bob Lutz who will probably be laughing his ass off and saying, ‘You shoulda listened to me decades ago!'”