When we first heard about the mysterious Apple-leased vans driving around California with camera-like apparatuses mounted to their roofs last week, I pushed aside the idea that it was anything other than an effort to up its game against Google’s Maps app. But new reports came out yesterday that seem to suggest that Apple has much more going on than I ever would have guessed. Is Apple actually looking to make an electric car to rival Elon Musk’s Tesla?

That’s the upshot of a report from Business Insider yesterday, which cited an email received from an employee at Apple about “vehicle deployment.” Seemingly in response to a report from Bloomberg about Tesla’s recent poaching of Apple employees, the writer of the email said that Tesla employees were actually “jumping ship” to work under Tim Cook.

And here’s why:

“Apple’s latest project is too exciting to pass up. I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”

The report goes on to add that, based on LinkedIn profiles, Apple has 50 employees who once worked at Tesla, and that “many of those hires were engineers who interned at Tesla” who “specialize in mechanics, manufacturing, and robotics.”

The thought that Apple would be making its own autonomous car – or an electric car – or both – is still pretty tough for me to believe. Again, Apple is interested in making stylish lifestyle devices, and making software to support those devices. Sure, there’s no reason Apple couldn’t jump into the auto game – it certainly has enough money to do literally whatever it wants. But I simply don’t understand why Apple would do that. What does it stand to gain?

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Sure, Google is making an autonomous car fleet, supposedly to roll out a new driverless taxi service. But in the end, that initiative can still serve its longtime goal of gathering user data and finding new ways to connect them with goods and services through advertising. It’s a roundabout way, but knowing where someone goes at a certain time of day, and how often still slots into its other goals, like search, health data, email, etcetera.


Why, then, would Apple want to compete with the likes of Tesla? Tesla makes cars; Apple makes iPhones. It’s not like a customer who buys a Tesla would turn around and say, “I guess we can’t afford that new iPhone this year.” If anything, there are plenty of consumers who almost certainly would buy both.

Until we know more, we have to consider this still just a shadowy rumor. I’m going to stay skeptical that Apple is making an autonomous or electric car – or any kind of car at all. Moreover, how do we know that the email received by Business Insider is from a real Apple employee?

That said, hey, I’ve been wrong plenty of times in my life. Maybe we’ll all be driving iCars this time next year.

[Source: Business Insider]


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