Apple Strategy? Hitch Hike, Then Drive.
Today, AppleCar rumors are getting as loud as they were before the original iPhone was announced. Who would believe Apple might take on such a crazy venture - to build a car?? But all these rumors reminded me recently how Apple does things. It seems like they “hitch hike” in an industry, and if they like it they “drive”. Back in 2005 Apple did just that. iTunes was released as an application that ran on a few cell phones - like Motorola’s. The ultimate experience was not so great, but it allowed Apple iTunes to hitch a ride aboard an industry device and cruise around a little.
Like iTunes, prior to all the iCar rumors, Apple released a nice little piece of software that allowed after-market car stereo/gps hardware vendors to include some iOS capabilities called CarPlay. Parts of iOS have literally been cruising around the streets in these after-market in-dash devices. The experience is …well, not so great that everyone is buying one. It’s got limitations but it’s acceptable.
After reviewing them last year I did not buy. I realized if CarPlay was not fully integrated into the vehicle, the experience would feel …incomplete. Besides it wasn’t running on Apple hardware and could not become the primary control for other creature-comfort related features, like the A/C. Apple needed something that could better integrate with the car, and that was not going to happen with a CarPlay-enabled device installed. The idea of just “acceptable” was becoming less appealing, so I moved on.
Apple likely came to the same conclusion. A few controls do not make for a great overall experience. Mixing two disperate interfaces (no matter how well each is executed) is like mixing apples and oranges. So in order to make driving with Apple truly great, it had to be all apples. It looks like Apple is building a car, the iCar, or AppleCar …or whatever rumor-name you like. In the end I bet the experience will be more than acceptable. Apple is getting ready to drive.