The much-anticipated Apple Car might be headed to the scrapheap before it reaches the road. Bloomberg is reporting that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has drastically cut back on Project Titan – its automotive effort.
Instead of building its’ own cars, Apple is planning to develop an autonomous-driving system that can be installed in other company’s cars, a Bloomberg Technology article indicates. The company has laid-off; or reassigned many, of the 1,000 people assigned to Project Titan.
Around 120 software engineers have been cut from the Project and many others have simply left. Citing anonymous sources Bloomberg stated that Project Titan manager Bob Mansfield has abandoned plans for building an Apple branded automobile.
The new focus of Titan will apparently be developing an autonomous-driving system similar to Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Google Car technology. That technology will then be sold or licensed to automakers. Alphabet’s engineers are currently working with Fiat-Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) on a project to develop a self-driving minivan.
Apple Lost the Self-Driving Car Race
One reason why the project is being scaled back is that Apple is lagging behind a variety of competitors including Ford (NYSE: F), Volvo, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) Daimler, Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and even Uber; All of which have publicly tested and demonstrated self-driving vehicles. Ford has even promised to put the first truly autonomous car on the road within five years.
That makes Apple’s project somewhat redundant. It also puts it in a poor position to compete because many of those competitors already have massive auto plants in operations. Some of them like Ford also have extensive dealership networks that they can tap.
One has to wonder if Apple will pull completely out of the vehicle business or simply become a supplier of vehicle components. There might be a huge market for Apple entertainment systems and cars in cars. Say an iPad built into the backseat for the kids to watch.
All this brings up another intriguing question: what will Apple do with the resources it was devoting to Project Titan? Perhaps, Tim Cook has some other even more audacious plan for all that money and engineering talent: perhaps an Apple house or an Apple robot?
Stay tuned folks some very interesting things are happening at Apple. The demise of Project Titan might lead to some incredible technological applications in other fields.