Will Apple’s next blockbuster product line have wheels and a windshield? Well, the company hasn’t said it won’t, and Senior VP Jeff Williams made some tantalizing comments at last week’s Code Conference.
Responding to a question about what the company might do with its massive pile of cash, Williams said, “The car is the ultimate mobile device, isn’t it? We explore all kinds of categories, and [try to] figure out in which ones we think we can make a huge difference. We don’t spend time worrying about the revenue growth…we just focus on making products that we’re excited about.”
Indications of an upcoming iCar aren’t hard for a willing mind to find. Apple has hired at least 150 former Tesla employees, and it recently settled a lawsuit with A123 claiming that Apple aggressively poached some of A123’s key battery engineers. Apple is already working with automakers on CarPlay, an in-dash system that links up with the iPhone. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that several hundred employees are working on an EV under a secret project code-named Titan.
Meanwhile, when re/code’s Walt Mossberg asked GM CEO Mary Barra what she thought about Apple (or Google) getting into the car game, she definitely didn’t rule it out, and noted how important the integration of complex hardware and software is to modern vehicles. Her potential competitors include not just traditional OEMs (and Tesla), but also “many tech companies that are very impressive.”