For instance, everyone seems to be frantic about Apple poaching Detroit-based engineering talent and making noise about developing automotive technology these days, maybe even a car. There seem to be two polarized camps on this subject. One suggests that Apple – being the invincible arbiter of all things technical when it comes to the consumer – has the smartest guys and gals in the room and the biggest pile of money, and that they can pretty much do whatever they want if they put their minds to it. And with their pitchforks raised and at the ready, and their superior intellect – just ask ‘em – needing a new challenge, they are sure to be successful at whatever suits their fancy, whether it means building an electric car of their own, or just burying Detroit altogether for the sheer sport of it.
The other perspective lies with the “here we go again” theory, as in here we go again with a tech company trying to manufacturer big, complicated machines that they have no experience with. And even though they have to come to Detroit to grab talent that understands how to make it all work – just as Tesla did (something the pitchfork-wielding denizens of Silicon Valley conveniently forget) – they will ultimately bite off more than they can chew.
The reality is somewhere in the middle. Is Apple up to something? Yes, obviously but what that is, exactly, remains to be seen. I think, for starters, that Apple wants to own the center stacks in the interiors of cars. They strongly believe in this notion of “seamless connectivity,” so that their existing customers can keep their Apple-dominated lives synchronized, even when they step into their cars. And Apple wants one manufacturer to agree to hand over the design and engineering of their center stacks, so that they can make the world a better place for all of us, as is their wont.
Will a manufacturer buy into it? I can think of a few that should, given their piss-poor attempts at customer connectivity to date, but at this point it’s another giant “we’ll see” that will roil this business for a good while.