Much has been written about the upcoming Apple iCar in the last few days. Speculation and fantasy are in the air ... an exciting topic. What Apple is preparing is nothing less than an upheaval that will completely transform the auto industry.
This is not an article in the traditional sense of the word that deals with what Apple is doing now. It's about the future, about consequences and opportunities. About the revolution. In order to understand why it is going to happen, let's approach the subject in a logical way. To get started, let's talk about the products that made Apple great.
My first computer didn't come from Apple, but from Siemens. A thing like a typewriter ... let's forget about it very quickly. The successor was an Apple and the first in a long line. About Lisa, countless Macintosh, Mac II LC, Power Mac and so on, the affinity continues to this day; in January there were two new Mac Book Pros.
Granted, Microsoft and Linux boxes were always found in my environment. Always only as a supplement and out of necessity, because there are applications that do not run on a Mac. How does it come that Apple is the preferred brand?
My relationship with computers is unsentimental, and the answer is simple: productivity.
Apple was never cheap, in the 80s a Lisa cost as much as a small Mercedes. For the high price, the Californian company delivered the world's first computer with a graphical user interface and mouse control. A first-class productivity tool - and it has remained so to this day. And that is what it is about.
Simple, intuitive operation, robust and valuable hardware, good, timeless design. A Mac has always been better and more sophisticated than what was invented beyond Cupertino. You could call it more serious.
If Apple - used to high profits - mixes with the comparatively low-income automakers, then they have a problem. Because Apple doesn't come just to play along. The signs stand up:
The automotive industry is a linear business. So far ! It is developing continuously. One more feature, a few horsepower, a little more chrome and quality in the interior, a pollutant class better. Adjusted for equipment, the successor is then slightly cheaper than the predecessor. You say. It goes from generation to generation. No manufacturer has shown the right courage to innovate or take risks for years. The industry threatens to suffocate because large corporations dominate the market. The trend is turning with the debut of alternative drives. The market of the future is fragmented. Yamaha wants to go back to the small car business with both electric cars and conventional drives - interestingly from Europe. Borgward plans the comeback, Google and Apple are coming.
Let's fly the thoughts on Apple iCar and grab some topics.
Car sharing 2.0
Car sharing is boring, but it's the future for manufacturers. They think linearly again and think that it is done with a box somewhere waiting for someone to want to drive it. An app that communicates this is seen as the real innovation. Carsharing customers probably don't have much fun with it, because what they drive is not their car. Just some kind of box, rented for a short time. Sure right?
Not in the future. Apple users save the configuration of their personal iCars in their Apple identity. Your very personal iCar will then be available via car sharing anywhere in the world, anywhere on the planet. Music and ambience the way you like it. The digital cockpit as you have configured it, responsiveness and driving characteristics as preferred. A retro iCar that drives like a 1984 Saab 900 Turbo? Or would you prefer a 2011 Saab 9-5 today because the family is there? No problem. The app delivers sound and driving experience. Just bloggers spinning?
Not at all! Part of it is already a reality today. Simulations cover reality. Sporty models simulate sound in the interior, and Tesla is already delivering the simulation of a conventional converter automatic. Because the customer wants that. And that is just the beginning.
Attack on the last refuge
The last place in the world that is halfway free of computers was the car. A place of freedom, a few square meters of habitat, where people can listen to music they love and with which they can travel wherever they want. A living room on wheels and a promise of freedom at the same time.
The refuge is in danger; in a few years it won't be what it was. So far the attack has been hesitant. Which is not due to a lack of feasibility, but to the inability of manufacturers who do not see open markets. Spotify and Apple Car Play are considered innovations in their circles, the word firewall has yet to be learned. This would mean that the vehicles of a southern German manufacturer would not be helpless at the mercy of any hacker attack.
In the future, we're streaming huge amounts of data, and Google is talking about a few terabytes per minute as we drive. What comes will interfere with our lives.
The iCar will direct us to the health food store 200 meters further before we turn to the drive in with the golden M. In contrast to us, it does not forget our BMI, and the fact that we invest too little in our health in principle was revealed to the rolling apple by the fitness bracelet. At the same time, the insurance app checks whether we have driven too fast again and whether we have finally lost our online no-claims discount.
The in-laws in the back seat are notified of the risk of thrombosis after 2 hours, and the environmental app measures our personal CO2 footprint. And because we're stuck in traffic again, the iCar rebooks our missed flight to Gothenburg to a later date and streams the latest House of Cards season on our screen while we wait.
It all sounds exciting, but it won't be fun if you consider the consequences. Even if Apple may take the protection of privacy seriously, a corresponding statement was only made a few days ago; our traces are so obvious that nothing will remain hidden.
Preferred routes, preferred travel times. With the appropriate infrastructure, the iCar will park its own vehicle and pick us up again with an air-conditioned interior at the location of our choice.
Because the iCar, like the Google Self Driving Project, streams large amounts of data, its operation requires the right infrastructure and its protection. The revolution will come. It needs new server capacities, high investments, and it comes through metropolitan areas and megacities.
is the future. The congestion in the metropolitan regions is not avoided, but the passenger is relieved. Why cling senselessly to the steering wheel if you could be productive during this time?
Robot cars from Google are already taking over, the Google project completely dispenses with the steering wheel. The vehicles mix in California in the normal city traffic, the behavior is indistinguishable from conventional cars. Remarkable.
Auto industry 2.0 will beat 1.0. Why this is so, about the chances for designers and the consequences of the development I write on Friday in the second part.