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Picture of the future has an Apple iCar in it

For want of a better title for this article there has been a lot of talk lately about Apple’s poaching attempts for their new auto division from Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors. A heady 60 percent salary increase and $250,000 signing bonus – something this Apple fan and Elon Musk fan boy is not happy about one bit –is certainly an interesting and exciting idea to consider.

After all Apple redefined several industries. Love them or hate them – they are responsible for smart phones, consuming music, apps, listening to music, buying software and more.

What else will they take their iWand to revolutionise. After all cars are the other device we mainly use. Apple is no longer a computer company but a technology device company.

A car is a device.

I think if Apple take their superb styling, revolutionary technology and thoughtful easy use features (except iTunes – often a crazy landscape to navigate) then we are truly up for a next phase in the evolution of commonly used device.

Apple have conquered the music world, phones, home entertainment (AppleTV) and computers. They by no means have smashed the computer revolution, but they have made their dent in the universe.

With $178,000,000,000 ($178 billion) cash in the bank they can buy Ford and General Motors and buy Greece to house them both. An extraordinary position to be in.

They are building the Apple Campus 2, an incredible new headquarters in Cupertino. Eighty percent of the property is covered in trees and 100 percent energy efficient producing its own.

Using the technology they have with toughened curved glass, steel and gadgetry why couldn’t they turn their hand to the humble car?

Elon Musk is shaking up the car space already. Apple have shown it’s OK to be the new kid on the block and shake it up a bit.

The idea of this article is to think about a future with an Apple car in the picture. This writer has had an Apple computer since he was 15, had all manner of iDevices plus numerous PC’s. Sure I’m a geek and love to speculate about all the stuff that could be.

So a world with an Apple car might look something like this. Note: these are my own ideas, and who knows, it would be nice to have these realised even if they are thought of by others more talented than me.

Awareness

If you already own an iPhone, then when you get into your iCar it would know you are the driver. It auto syncs with bluetooth and starts playing the last song you were listening to on that device.

One can already customise the way your apps are shown on your device screen so I’d imagine it’d be the same for the car. It would know everything that is preset to you – to auto adjust to how your dash looks. The temperature you like the car to be set at. The seat settings and that it’s Tuesday morning. It’s gym time at 6am so it’s already working out that there is an accident on Camden Valley Way; will you make it or just keep driving to the office?

The entire time Siri is guiding you with prompts to make a selection.

Have Siri let you know what song just played and whether you want to add it to your collection via iTunes.

Connectivity

Upgrading your software and connecting it to third party devices is a right royal pain in the whatsis. Apple usually have their connectivity down pat. It just works seamlessly. However trying to connect to your car’s bluetooth while making a call is fraught with frustration and danger if you are driving.

One day it works and then after a software update it doesn’t.

What Apple do best is own the eco system. They build the hardware and software. So there is no bloat with features you do not need.

Imagine just being completely synchronised and done so without effort.

This is a stretch but what if all Apple cars are distribution nodes for everyone else? Perhaps it’s a feature you can turn on. Power is no issue. 4G connectivity is a no brainer. Maybe we will be driving self sustaining wi-fi hotspots? I mean if Amazon can do it with their whisper-net to send you books wirelessly at no charge (cost built into the book) then why not enable the cost of apps and music to be streamed to your car over wi-fi networks?

Apple are delving into credit card payments. They have their own platform now. Is it a stretch of the imagination to go to telephony too and own the very infrastructure that also delivers Apple content to your devices?

Online Payments at the bowser. Pull up. Fill up on the sun juice – figuring they will have solar powered fuel stations like Tesla or some licensing arrangement in place to use their systems. Drive in, charge up and charge on.

The car is connected to Apple Pay and your exit your destination without any human contact whatsoever. It’s all taken care of.

If Apple does produce an electric car and in all likelihood they will with what they learn from building Apple Campus 2 and stealing minds from Tesla – will put that expert knowledge to great use. How will they charge for power that essentially you get for free?

Elon Musk truly has an altruistic nature about building a better world through transportation and energy consumption; or will Apple take some kind of payment for power as well? Tesla doesn’t charge its customers for electricity. They give it away for free.

Being an Apple user is not cheap. It’s an exclusive brand. We are used to paying for stuff. Will we pay for electricity gleaned from the sun when Tesla Motors give it for free?

It takes about 30 minutes to re-charge a Tesla vehicle. If Apple can make the delivery of energy quicker then would they charge a premium for that privilege?

Accessories

Currently there are numerous companies that rely on the Apple ecosystem to provide coloured cases and a zillion other devices that personalise your Apple experience.

How would an Apple Car keep that tradition going? A car available in only specific colours? Like Ferrari does with its unmistakable red.

Perhaps the colour will change colour based on our preference?

We can order music, apps, movies, ringtones. Why not order car colour? Too much? Nissan makes a glow-in-the-dark car. It’s not such a big stretch to have the colour change on your vehicle if needed?

What about other automated accessories to connect your car wirelessly to your home? The car sends signals to the house when you are a few kilometres away from home. The external lights come on. The garage door opens as you start down your street. The home lighting is on and the system sensors you are listening to Michael Jacksons’ “This is it” and it fires up the score to 2.16 which is the time you turned off your car – it’s now seamlessly playing in the house.

Alternatively how many times have you been in the car having that business call. Turn off the car and either lose the signal or that brief pause where you hold your breath and then start again. An Apple connected car can help you carry on that conversation seamlessly between environments.

Sustainability

Like the phone case on the iPhone. It’s all one piece. Will an Apple vehicles’ shell be one piece instead of panels? If it is one piece can it be made quicker, lighter, less fixing parts, less bolts and rivets and quicker to manufacture?

Spare parts will be a major factor in dealing with smashed up vehicles. Will Apple get into insurance so that we could just swap out the entire body of the car with a new one and they can dump the damaged shell back into its development eco-system by having the first fully recyclable car?

Like a phone one can pay by a plan and if you lose that phone; it is replaced. Why not for a car too? Lease the car. All your information about the car, its settings and such is stored online. You have an accident. Get another replacement car within hours – all with the same settings you have come to take for granted.

Storage

Every device Apple has built has storage. Car storage wouldn’t be any different I’d imagine. You’d need solid state hardware to store the car software. Why not a WiFi, Bluetooth connected automobile?

I am figuring the storage could be astronomical. Imagine all the in-car entertainment you could poke a stick at. It’s not such a stretch. Western Digital already have a 2TB WiFi hard drive. I wanted to build my own car storage device that syncs with my network so all the content I like to listen to can be stored in the car rather than streaming down the phone company’s data plans, making them richer than they need be.

Storage can be much more than storing data. What about storing energy. We are assuming this Apple Car will be electric. So there would be all manner of outlets to recharge your Apple devices. By 2020 (the year being bandied about for when we can expect an Apple car) though it might charge your devices by being placed on the dash or recharge station for devices that only need to touch the device. No need for specific adapters. Your device charges by default just by touching the surface.

The car can be a massive battery hub for any number of Apple devices.

If they own that eco system too; then expect Apple to invest in:

  • Insurance
  • Solar Power
  • Finance
  • On road service
  • Repair
  • Hire cars

One can do a lot with $170 billion dollars. Apple will keep churning out derivatives of their popular devices and why not turn their hand to disrupt another industry, automobiles. Make another dent in the universe and perhaps be on the road to becoming the first trillion dollar company.

Image courtesy of 24megabytes.com

 

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