The End of Project Titan

This week, we got the news that Apple canceled its Apple Car program (Project Titan). Apple spent the last ten years poking around the edges of making cars and, according to Bloomberg, got to a critical decision point recently and decided to pass.

I’m relieved for several reasons:

  • Apple is best when it’s focused, and getting into the car business would be a massive distraction.
  • While I’m sure Apple could make a nice car, there are a lot of nice cars. Apple can make a more significant impact on consumer electronics. (Look at how the wearable headset space turned upside down last month.)
  • I wonder how Apple could have continued to partner with automakers with Apple CarPlay once they entered the market and became competitors. Also, what would motivate Apple to make CarPlay better if they preferred you to buy their car instead?
  • (Selfishly) The Apple Car would be an Apple Product I couldn’t afford.

My big point, however, is that first one: I don’t know how they could build out the car business and retain their current focus on the Apple products I like most.

That Car Project

Recently 9to5 Mac reported Kevin Lynch is moving from the Apple Watch to the Apple Car. Every time we get a car-related rumor or announcement I have to remind myself that it exists. While my brain has no problem retaining the fact that Apple will eventually have a pair of cool glasses with interesting tech, I haven’t got around to internalizing that it may also some day be a car manufacturer.

Regardless, someday there will be a book telling the inside story of Project Titan and its various starts and stops and I look forward to reading it, because from the outside the story so far is confusing as hell.

Apple Car, Ugh.

Now we’re hearing about the Apple Car project coming back from the dead.


It wasn’t so long ago that Apple was busy on the car project and building their spaceship campus, and it felt like the stuff we wanted most out of Apple—amazing Macs, iPhones, and iPads—was falling behind. That was the age of lousy keyboards and buggy software.

It sounds like Apple is, once again, getting more actively involved in the car business. Maybe this time, they will be able to walk and chew gum. They have finished construction on Apple Park, and the Mac, iPhone, and iPad all feel on solid ground right now. Yet still … it makes me nervous.

Whither Apple Car?

Once again Mark Gurman delivers an Apple scoop, this time explaining that Apple’s automobile plans are getting scaled-back. There have been rumors for some time now about layoffs on Apple’s car project. Some day there will be some great stories about the early days and revisions to this project. I imagine there are a lot of reasons why Apple has backed off on its never-announced car project but I’m certain that at least one of them would be the tremendous amount of attention it would take (away from Apple’s other products) to launch such a thing. I also can’t help but think that it’s too early for Apple to get into the car game. Everything is turning over right now and the laws haven’t even been written yet for self-driving cars. Apple usually shows up after the market has had awhile to mature and they can see a way they can improve upon existing products.


Cameras and Cars

One of my friends recently bought a new camera. This guy is passionate about photography and one of those types that meticulously researches a purchase like this. So when he told me decided on his next big camera purchase I assumed it would be Canon, Nikon, or maybe even Leica. What I didn’t expect was his answer–Fuji.

He explained that when it comes to mirrorless cameras, there is a lot of stiff competition from companies that weren’t even in the ring a few years ago. That got me thinking about cars.

The mechanism that is an SLR camera–the mirror, the shutter, and the rest–is a bit old and creaky. Removing it in mirrorless cameras made competition from outsiders easier. I’d argue the same is true for the internal combustion engine. Existing car makers have so much specialized knowledge about how to make the best and most reliable internal combustion engines and, for many years, the acquisition of this specialized knowledge was the barrier to entry for anyone that wanted to make cars. However, that is changing. Electric cars are much simpler. There is an electric motor that is attached to a chassis with some sort of braking and steering mechanism. Carburetors, pistons, engine blocks, smog absorbers, oil pans, and all that other junk that are required to make an internal combustion engine all get thrown out the window with an electric car.

Like the high end camera market, cars are also easier to design and build now thanks to these advances in technology. This is why companies like Google and Apple seem to be ramping up to get in the car business. They don’t need the expertise that was mandatory a few years ago and new types of expertise, like batterie and software, will soon rule the day with respect to making cars. Those new subjects just happen to be right in Apple and Google’s wheelhouse. Like my friend’s new Fuji camera (that he loves), you may be surprised who people are buying cars from in a few years.