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Apple Signs Deal with Volkswagen for Driverless Car (nytimes.com)
286 points by rtrunck 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 278 comments



Favorite tidbits:

- This is only for experimental self-driving vans shuttling employees. It will have drivers to take control on demand.

- Initially Apple planned self-driving vehicle where 4 seats face each other, sunroof material that gives less hit, electrically tinted windows and holographic windshields.

- Project was abandoned because they realized "designing and building fundamental parts of a new car was not simple".

- Apple tried to partner with someone who can do manufacturing while they do design. BMW, Mercedes, Nissan - all rejected that offer.

- Ive was charged with design. Tim Cook drives BMW so he wanted to partner with them.

- VW accepted the offer because they have been beaten a lot. They will supply basic components while Apple will add others.

It surprises to me no end that a company with $100B in funds, vast experience in supply chain and ability to suck up virtually all talent is struggling so badly at a technology that is over 100 years old while Tesla with its shoestring budgets leap frogged all established players. Goes on to show that leader at the top makes all the difference in the world.

Kudos to NYT for doing investigative journalism.


> It surprises to me no end that a company with $100B in funds, vast experience in supply chain and ability to suck up virtually all talent is struggling so badly at a technology that is over 100 years old

Their supply chain experience is for completely different parts. The suppliers for computer and phone parts are not the same suppliers as those for engine parts, wheel parts, etc.

Apple wouldn't just need to hire the right people - they'd need to build out the factories and supplier relationships and dealer networks and everything else from scratch. Recall that Tesla was founded in 2003, and what you look at now is the product of fifteen years of corporate development - and they're still not on the level of Detroit's Big Three.

Really, Apple would need to acquire a car manufacturer, but when you look at the market caps of various car companies - GM's is $53B, Ford's is $44B, Chrysler's is $34B, BMW's is $56B, and so on - buying a controlling stake in any one of them is doable, but constitutes using quite a lot of Apple's cash reserves. It goes to reason that there'll be opposition within Apple to using that much of the cash reserves on any one bet.


I remember seeing an article where Aston Martin would be a perfect deal. They are doing great cars, you can see they care about quality and design beyond just the luxury segment, and they are cheap. It's valued at $7 billions [1].

I don't like the idea of Tim Cook going to BMW just because he drives and likes BMW however... I think it's a bad way to make decisions.

[1] https://www.motor1.com/news/238922/aston-martin-stock-market...


> I don't like the idea of Tim Cook going to BMW just because he drives and likes BMW however... I think it's a bad way to make decisions.

No, I think that's OP and you reading too much in that tidbit. The original quote was this:

   BMW was long Apple’s top choice, given its focus on 
   high-end but mainstream products, former employees said. 
   Many Apple executives, including the company’s chief executive,
   Timothy D. Cook, also drive BMWs. 
So BMW was a top choice not because many execs are driving them but because it's a luxury premium auto brand and sells quite well - which is very similar to Apple brand consumer electronics.

Also, Jony Ive is a car guy, he loves Aston Martins, Bentleys, Saabs and Land Rovers and have a huge collections of them. By your logic, it'd be a "bad choice" to consider Aston Martin simply because Jony Ive loves them :)


Aston Martin doesn't have the manufacturing capacity to support the demand for an Apple car. If there's anything that Tesla has proven, it's that moving from the low-volume luxury segment to high-volume is Really Hard. And while Apple products are very much luxury products, they're still luxury products produced at high volume and marketed to the mass market.


I agree. Auto manufacturing excellence is not something money or talents can buy but it takes a tremendous amount of time on top of money and talents to distill.


Tell that to Tesla.


I keep seeing this meme about Tesla and it keeps making me grumpy. Basic lane keeping is simple, and Tesla is only doing that. And they're doing it badly.

Tesla's autopilot is a PR move to try to raise more capital. They are not and will not be a serious player in driverless cars.

What they've got is a system doing object detection. Object detection is actually one of the easiest parts of driverless cars. Planning and interaction end up being much harder and requiring a lot of data, none of which Tesla has collected. (Also, in practice you need lidar and a fully mapped road, neither of which Tesla has; we're at least a decade from the top players who are actually collecting large scale urban / suburban data from dropping the map requirement, and there's really no reason not to use lidar as the price is dropping so quickly. Both reasons Tesla's "we've got lots of data" claim are BS...)


> you need lidar and a fully mapped road

To play devil's advocate - somehow I drove myself to work today, and the hardware I'm running is just two moderate resolution limited field of view cameras. Not an expert, but from first principles it should be possible to pilot a self-driving car with cameras only, given enough processing power and a smart enough agent. Maybe those last two aren't there in 2018 though.


> To play devil's advocate - somehow I drove myself to work today, and the hardware I'm running is just two moderate resolution limited field of view cameras.

This sounds like a fallacy (not sure which one). Just because you can do it does not mean a machine can. There are things that babies can do that machines can't (in 2018).


That misses the point. The idea is that a human being is machine running on couple hundred Watts, twenty of which are spent on compute and sensing. There's no reason why a man-made device couldn't replicate the feat.


There is, in fact a reason we can't replicate that today, and it's not for lack of trying. We don't have neither the full understanding of the human machine nor the technology to replicate it. As an example, muscles are well-understood, but we haven't been able to make artificial muscles with energy efficiency in the same ballpark. The human brain is much less understood.

I'm not saying it won't be possible at some future date after some hypothetical breakthroughs, but we are far from it presently.


That is exactly what serious security said - "in practice you need lidar and a fully mapped road". The word "presently", "today" or "with current computational limitations" are notably missing from that statement. It would at least add some ambiguity to a statement that is provably wrong.


This is pedantry. It's the same as them saying "You need a rocket to send a payload into space" and someone retorts "No: you can also use a space elevator". The presently is implicit, and space elevators don't (yet) exist.


The initial statement is saying that there is no physical way to achieve this feat today without lidar. While millions of agents (humans) are currently doing this today without lidar, or even eyes in the back of their head. I don't see anybody/anything with the blasé regularity of human drivers without lidar (machine or not) moving things into space except via space craft. So to boldy claim that lidar is NEEDED is absurd. Speaking of getting things to space, I remember people telling the same guy, Elon, that you NEEDED a new rocket to launch your payload into space every time. It is funny, you needed that until you didn't. All the while, humans we, with the blasé regularity of human drivers without lidar, not throwing away their cargo aircraft every time freighted between airport.

Keep the "pedantry" name calling out of this.


So there's a couple things at play.

Lidar range is more than double visual range, in practice.

When figuring out collision avoidance paths for an object you actually end up approximating some np hard problems to find a path that won't have collisions and won't be too "careful".

This ends up being fairly computationally intensive, and adding the extra time significantly improves your planning. Doubling compute time tends to beat doubling your training dataset in terms of system quality, at this scale.

Extra time also turns a number of situations from "guaranteed kill" to "we can avoid the accident", because the car is traveling really fast and those extra seconds can be used to brake, find a new path, etc.

In visibility impaired situations, lidar and vision have different constraints and ways they fail, and the intersection of the two can significantly improve scene understanding ( see waymo's snow demo ).

In a lot of cases, path planning can be dramatically improved by having maps. If you're going into a curve and know the shape of the road, you can preload that and spend your time on more important tasks like object detection and path planning.

Etc etc etc.

This is absolutely not a domain for intuition and thought experiments. The pragmatics of the industry are highly intricate and responsive to constraints that are only visible if you've worked on this stuff.


That's not the only hardware you're running though: those two cameras are connected to a sophisticated object-classification system with around 540 million years [0] of R&D behind it.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye


The problem is your "smart enough agent" and how to obtain one.

There is something in the middle between your pairs of eyes and your decision making that makes you understand what is actually going on around you: perception/cognition.

If this was so simple as you put it (and in particular just by throwing algorithms and processing power at it), several problems would be trivial by now and we all already would have our personal digital assistants... I mean the real deal.

Well knowing I sound like "dismissive grampa" right now, and yes, we have come far and it is impressive, but I sometimes feel like us nerds/hackers/software guys tend to considerably underestimate most problems, and as consequence the intelligence and efforts of those that came before us.


Keep in mind that a self-driving car will necessarily need to have a much safer track-record than a human driver. That's what drives the need for more than just two low resolution cameras looking out the front. Plus you need the cameras to be able to look behind and to the sides of the vehicle which is easier to do with more than two front-facing cameras.


Your eyes have significantly more dynamic range than even the best generally available cameras. For example, your eyes can see enough details to walk in a dark room at night while cameras would need additional illumination (flash or IR).

Smart enough is also pretty hard, especially for edge cases. For example, imagine driving on a highway and there's a discarded grocery bag flying around. Based on the flying pattern, it's pretty easy for you to identify such an object if you've seen one before. For a deep neural network, if it hasn't seen enough examples of such objects, it'll fail to classify it properly. What will a self driving car do if it sees an unknown object in front of it while driving at highway speeds?


What happens if two cars with LIDAR drive toward each other? Isn't this one of the problems google self-driving car had, where one car interfered with others?


> It surprises to me no end that a company with $100B in funds and ability to suck up virtually all talent is struggling so badly at a technology that is over 100 years old while Tesla with its shoestring budgets leap frogged all established player. Goes on to show that leader at the top makes all the difference in the world.

Look at who's at leadership positions at VW, look at the hierarchies of these old German companies. You're just looking at the money. These companies are too big to fail for the German government.

They're so comfy sitting in those chairs. They know something is wrong, but they don't really feel the heat. In the back of their minds they're just waiting for retirement and want to change as little as possible from the status quo. If they do and something goes wrong, they catch the blame. If they don't and things go wrong, their predecessor is to blame.

That won't stop them from talking about innovation and change all day long though.

In the end I won't tell you trust me, I know, I spent two years in such a place, but I can tell you that once you start changing your perspective the entire madness starts making sense.


The comment that proves Poe's Law.


Tesla started by partnering with Lotus who is a well established small automobile constructor. Those guys have made production car as well as racing cars for year. Apple on the other hand went directly to a well established luxury automotive European brand and told them to transfer the technology. Of course the car manufacturer would refuse. The brand impact is too big if Apple is to fail.

The investment for manufacturing a modern car are huge, and you need someone like Musk no Cook to take on the challenge of starting from scratch, and the supplier market for car part is entangled into cartel like behaviour, which will be very hard to break by an outsider.


> It surprises to me no end that a company with $100B in funds, vast experience in supply chain and ability to suck up virtually all talent is struggling so badly at a technology that is over 100 years old while Tesla with its shoestring budgets leap frogged all established players.

Tesla still hasn't demonstrated that they are capable of building a mid-range car profitably. And with the ongoing low production numbers for the Model 3 it seems like running a profitable company that mass produces cars is a lot harder than Tesla thought.


> It surprises to me no end that a company with $100B in funds, vast experience in supply chain and ability to suck up virtually all talent is struggling so badly at a technology that is over 100 years old while Tesla with its shoestring budgets leap frogged all established players.

Maybe they just want to get into cars but also not burn money in a massive way. Like Tesla is doing.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-tesla-burns-cash/


> while Tesla with its shoestring budgets leap frogged all established players

That's not true at all. Tesla is currently failing at engineering cars, manufacturing cars and their automated driving tech is actively killing people.


To be fair, lots of 'automated driving tech' is killing people?

And what they aren't failing at, spectacularly succeeding in fact, is in marketing. They are a household word; their cars are considered the top of the heap as electrics go.


“Apple tried to partner with someone who can do manufacturing while they do design. BMW, Mercedes, Nissan - all rejected that offer.“

Rejected rightly so. That’s pretty smug of Apple. Seems they are forgetting about “design for manufacture”. I can see some hooty tooty Apple “designer” interacting with a group of grouchy, old automotive engineers.

“Initially Apple planned self-driving vehicle where 4 seats face each other, sunroof material that gives less hit, electrically tinted windows and holographic windshields. - Project was abandoned because they realized "designing and building fundamental parts of a new car was not simple".“

This is the attitude of Silicon Valley. Ignoring the “fluff” for some grandeous bullshit. They’d have a holographic windshield that crashed and rebooted constantly. Tesla is learning this the hard way, as they can’t even get their body panels to fit correctly. And I’m supposed to trust them with self driving?


I didn't think about it, but you may be on to something to watch out for... If Apple neglects the advise of automotive engineers for the sake of visual aesthetics that could be a red flag. Maybe they weren't going to ignore the engineers but didn't give off that vibe to the manufacturers they went to, who knows. I wouldn't want to drive with a car that puts aesthetics before known engineering safety decisions and the like.

Time will tell, I wish Apple the best in any regard. While I personally do not trust self-driving cars fully as a developer (software can and does fail for any given reason, and even car components aren't reliable / long lived enough in some cases, anyone else have that pesky tire air light come on recently? You'd think that sensor would just work kinda thing...) I don't mind some of the tech that could be created out of it, like warning a driver when they're trying to shift to a lane with a car too close for comfort, and other things. In other cases I wish we had self parking cars be much more common, some people just do not park right at all.


The iPhone 4 antenna is a prime example. Designers driving engineering, with a rush to market. People bitch about unsightly cell phone towers, while holding a device whose antennas is not any better than a wet banana peel.


Antennagate was a none issue. There was one week of bitching, then a grumpy Steve Jobs had the press event were he handed out free bumpers and showed other phones also had the death grip, then the iPhone 4 sold tens of millions and was kept in the lineup even after the 4S next year.

Many of my friends had a 4 and used it for years and none ever complained about reception issues. (They did complain that the button broke after years of use, a real issue of the 4, fixed in the 4S, but with no media frency behind it.)


>Antennagate was a none issue.

Who are you to decide what is an issue to people? The phones never got fixed (which would be the only fair way to fix this beside giving the money back). It was most definitely an issue for me and I'll never buy Apple until they swap the broken phones or give buyers all their money back.

It makes no difference if other phones did it as well. That is an extremely poor excuse.


I forgot about the iPhone 4, heh and then they claimed "you're holding it wrong" which I thought was a ridiculous cop out. You designed it wrong! Own up to it!


EPA emissions tech: Please report the current engine NOx level. Passat: Ok, I found this on the web for "Engine knocks level"... EPA emissions tech: Please report engine PM 2.5 particulate level. Passat: Here's what I found on the web for 'Engine p.m. 2.5 particulate level"...

It's a match made in heaven.


I would never defend VW for the emissions scandal (although they were just the ones who were caught, far from the sole offender), but they certainly deserve praise for their ability to market good affordable vehicles to the masses. My bad feeling about this is coming from another perspective: this reminds me pretty closely of the Motorola-Apple Rockr fiasco. Cars are very different from phones, though. I’m surprised that Apple couldn’t sign a deal with the Japanese or the Koreans though.


>although they were just the ones who were caught, far from the sole offender

Who else made software that runs the engine in cheat-mode when under emission test, which is what VW was caught doing?



The Koreans build their own stuff.


Seems they are trying at any rate: "town built for self-driving cars has opened in South Korea" https://qz.com/1121372/south-korea-opens-k-city-the-latest-f...


And I’m sure VW can make all the autopilot safety tests pass. (wink wink)


User: "Please drive me to the strip club", Passat: "Sorry, the terms of service strictly prohibit adult content"


You laugh but that's probably what's gonna end up happening.


Well at least macs might soon be considered good for gaming again...


I know there is a punchline somewhere here, but I am failing to find it. Can you explain?


Same here, but reached the conclusion it was hinting at gaming the system.


Gaming the system..


How about first improve Apple maps or at least let us use Google maps with Car Play?

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/ Google Maps's Moat - Justin O'Beirne

Only then fix Siri and then try your hand at an automated car. Maps and Siri will not kill someone. But honestly if Apple can not figure out maps or Siri how on Earth would they do a car?


In what way have they not "figured out" maps? It isn't a defective product, Google just has more user features (partly because they monetize location data, partly because they monetize priority display of businesses, and partly because they were around 8 years longer)


All I know is that I've repeatedly run into situations where Google maps will take me to the entrance of something like a rec center, park or school while Apple maps takes me to a spot a quarter mile away on the other side of the block in the middle of a stretch of road with no entrance. Multiple times my wife and I will use her iPhone to get close and then switch to google maps on my note5 to actually get to the entrance.


Apple is a big company and forces you to use Apple Maps with Carplay. There is just no excuse for Apple Maps to continue to be so far behind. Been an Apple fan before it was cool to be an Apple fan but I can be realistic.

Here is a great link that breaks it down compared to Google Maps. When did Apple decide the goal no longer is to be the best?

Do not even get me started on Siri. I find this defense of Apple baffling? Why is it acceptable to do a poor job at a product?

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/


Just to be clear, there is no statement from Apple or Google that Apple has blocked Google Maps or any other third party mapping from CarPlay. It could very well be Google just hasn't prioritized support.

I'm aware (and I'm sure Apple is aware) that Google Maps has more features. AFAIK Apple has never in their history thought that having the most features makes their product the best.

I'm also unsure Apple wants Maps to "beat" Google. My understanding is that based on a requirement for data from users as part of the licensing of Google Maps, Apple felt they're had to create and ship their own default maps app to preserve customer's privacy and default experience. That doesn't mean they're are against customers opting into a Google product.


The problem is that there is essentially no limit to how detailed a map can be. As long as Google continues to add detail to their maps as fast as Apple does, Apple will not be able to catch up.

Most other products have a plateau where adding more features ceases to make the product better.

Apple Maps definitely has improved a lot since when it was introduced in 2012.


That’s fine and understandable, but Apple should not be forcing their maps product down the throats of iOS users by crippling competitors’ products for no good reason (same goes for Apple crippling Spotify to promote Apple Music, etc.)


Forcing users to use your stuff never works out well. But really just like to see Apple fix the problem and get back to trying to provide the best UX in the industry.


That's a bold statement. I use Google maps on my iPhone. What's the problem?

I'd say Apple Maps did its job well... It got Google to release Google Maps FOR iOS.


What Apple is doing now is similar to what Microsoft did in the 90s regarding Internet Explorer. Yes, you can use other apps, but much of the common ways to integrate into the OS are purposely disabled for non-Apple apps for obvious anti-competitive purposes; for Google maps, you can't set it as your default maps app (which means Apple Maps is constantly opening in contexts where you obviously want Google Maps), there is no CarPlay integration, can't use it properly with Siri, etc.

I guess they can get away with it because iOS isn't a monopoly, but I think it's a dumb move on their part.


Fair point.


Open one of your contact's addresses in Google Maps. It's trivial to replace the default mapping application in Android and impossible on iOS.

https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/290873


Now if I could just get Siri to navigate with google maps...


Apple Maps are so defective that they are completely useless.


I disagree, during the odd time I've worked Amazon Flex Apple Maps has saved me. It was more up to date than the crap Amazon use and was more up to date than Google Maps.


The issue is Apple Maps is still far behind Google Maps. It is far behind Waze. It is not close and the gap grows.

I am old and been an Apple fan for a very long time. So I just do not get when it became acceptable at Apple to have poor products? They use to strive to provide the best and most importantly the best user experience.

If I can say take me to X and my mapping takes me to X that is the ideal user experience. Versus with Apple I say take me to X and it wants to take me to Y which is 300 miles away!

Saying take me to X and it tells me that it will be closed before I get there is a far better user experience.

And please do not tell me it is because of no access to data. Read their privacy agreement.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

For some odd reason it is now acceptable and even defended for Apple to provide poor products.

Now if they do self driving vehicles and they kill people are we going to say well it is good enough? Or say well that is because they do not have data?

Here is a great site that lays out how Apple Maps is NOT closing the gap but instead the gap is growing. Why on earth does this not bother Apple?

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/


The issue is Apple Maps is still far behind Google Maps. It is far behind Waze. It is not close and the gap grows

This isn't true at all. When I was in Japan recently I was so grateful I owned an iPhone with Apple maps, as Google maps could never send me to the correct location, and Apple maps got it right every time.

You are mischaracterizing Apple maps. Try it for a month. That one blog post that everyone cites here doesn't tell the whole story. Also, I get significant peace of mind knowing that I'm not being fed POI data based on who is the highest bidder the way things work in Waze and GMaps.


I don't think have any idea how any of this really works. The issue that Apple has with Maps and Siri is lack of data. They simply don't have all of the street view or POI data which allows them to accurately identify businesses or identify gaps in mapping data. Likewise for Siri they don't have access to Google's Knowledge Graph and Apple's position on privacy limits what personal data is available.

None of this is a reflection on Apple's abilities in Data Science in which they've done some outstanding work on with (a) differential privacy with iOS and (b) FaceID.

And just because the Maps and Siri teams have issues of there own doesn't mean Apple has to stop everything they are doing until it is fixed. They can walk and chew gum at the same time.


How does Siri have a lack of data? They send all Siri requests to their servers. They have it all. It's not a data problem with Siri, and to excuse Apple Maps after all these years --- come on, they have unlimited budget. There is no excuse at all. If this is the outcome after all this time they should have never made maps at all. I'm an Apple fan and I'm saying this.


In my experience, there’s no problem with data about roads, routing etc in Apple Maps. That stuff works well, and in some cases even better than Google (Google Maps makes hilarious mispronunciations for German names that sometimes make it hard to follow voice instructions).

Where Apple fails miserably is search, and local place names. Apple Maps data will often show results in a different country instead of whatever I meant to search for in my city. Trying to find businesses if you don’t know the full official names is practically impossible.

Apple Maps works great if you know the official address, but it’s pretty much useless for anything else.


The Apple Maps location search experience has improved hugely in the last several years, at least here in the UK.

It's still not quite up there with Google Map's location knowledge, but it's certainly not the often-innacurate mess it once was.

The big difference I see now days comes down to how quickly the data is updated. To test this, take a newly opened (or closed) restaurant or store and compare Apple and Google's knowledge of the location.

Google tends to have it almost immediately, presumably because Google provides tools for the business owners to enter the information directly. But Apple's knowledge can lag behind by a few weeks, or more for more obscure things. This is presumably due to their dependence on third-party data providers like Yelp.


I will go back and try Apple maps from time to time.

It will just do crazy stuff. Ask for something and want you to drive, literally, to something 300 miles away. It is easily confused when you use something by it's name.

But trying to use Apple Maps on holiday in Europe was almost useless.

Then so many other things. Google Maps will tell you if the place will be open or closed when you will get there for example.

Apple use to stand for providing the best products. The best user experience. Somehow that has been lost and become acceptable to do a poor job.

Same with Siri. It is just an awful user experience compared to using the Google Assistant.

Guess my question is why is this acceptable? Look at their privacy agreement and you approve them collecting all kinds of data so that is not it. Heck Apple even forces you to accept them collecting data on people you interact with in the US.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

"When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to participate in Apple services or forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. Apple will use such information to fulfill your requests, provide the relevant product or service, or for anti-fraud purposes."

I am tired of Apple getting a pass on offering a poor user experience. What they use to be all about.


Trying to use Google Maps in Japan was useless, using the buses in Kyoto it wouldn't tell me what stop I'm at, etc. Apple maps could tell me exactly what stop I was at whereas Google Maps was lacking in information.

Also, with regards to the blog link, why would you care about how detailed the buildings on the map are for daily use? And Google will tell me if something will be closed by the time I get there. But it's usually wrong for me.


It is the same when on holiday in Europe. Disappointing Apple does not do something about it and ok with having a product with a worse UX than competitors.

I remember when Apple approach was to be the best.


Apple provides similar tooling for businesses [0].

[0]: https://mapsconnect.apple.com


> The big difference I see now days comes down to how quickly the data is updated.

To be fair to Apple, tehy are very responsive if you report. I quite often use the in-Map tool for reporting a problem with a location and these days get a 'Its been fixed' within a few days or a week.


In the end it is about user experience and Apple has failed to provide a competitive user experience with Apple Maps and Siri for that matter. To be that is not excusable.

It has now been long enough for them to get it better and worries me that it is just now acceptable at Apple.


What rot. Google have a 7 year head start on Apple in terms of mapping. To expect Apple to offer a service at a similar standard immediately is preposterous! Besides, Apple can pinpoint my address, Google cant, despite being repeatedly told.

Siri is nowhere near as bad as you suggest. You are exaggerating to make a point.


The issue is why is this acceptable by Apple?

https://amp.businessinsider.com/images/59309194b74af426208b5...

Assistant is all about UX and the Apple of the past would do everything they could to be the best. I mean way better versus so far behind.

They have had plenty of time now to make Apple Maps better. Here is a great comparison.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

Why is this acceptable?


How old is that chart?

> Apple of the past would do everything they could to be the best.

Sigh... Which Apple? Scott? Jobs I/Markkula? Sculley? Spindler? Amelio? Jobs II? You are aware that this all started before 2007? The Performa series, released under Spindlers watch, were arguably the lowest point in Apple's history. So let's not get too hyperbolic about the state of Siri, which is considerably better than you allude to. As to accuracy, Google links into the biggest search engine in the world, and Google seem to be ethically challenged when examining that data.

> They have had plenty of time now to make Apple Maps better. Here is a great comparison.

That is subjective. Objectively, Apples maps are significantly better than they were upon release 6 years ago. As I already pointed out, Google have a 7 year head start in an area that is neither parties core business, so good enough is all they need to be. Google Maps are useless to me as they cannot find my address. Apple maps can. For me, in and around London, Apple's maps have been objectively better than Googles. YMMV.

As to the article; building footprints make for better mapping? That's, like, your opinion man...


Problem is Apple keeps getting further and further behind Google and that just was not the way in the past.

They strived to provide the best UX.

It is very disappointing to see.


Alternatively

http://macdailynews.com/2018/02/22/apple-maps-vs-google-maps...

>“Relative to Google Maps, Apple Maps estimated trip times were on average 8% longer (i.e worse) and Waze estimates are 3% shorter (i.e. better),” Grabowski writes. “Using Apple Maps, I on average arrived 1% faster than initially estimated, versus 2% slower with Google Maps and 11% slower with Waze. In other words, Apple sandbags its estimates so that users on average arrive at the predicted time or slightly sooner. Google and Waze are overly optimistic in their predictions and thus their users arrive later than expected.”


I tend to disagree in that I use Apple Maps a lot when driving in the UK. Google is better in some respects, but not substantially. Siri is fine for what I use it for - playing music, setting timers, sending messages.


> It's still not quite up there with Google Map's location knowledge

Depends on where you are. Goole maps are surprisingly poor in parts of London.


So Google's maps aren't poor in London? Prove it. I can prove that they are poor in my area...


Apple use to stand for providing the best user experience. I am old and been a fan of Apple for a long time.

For some reason it is now acceptable to provide a bad user experience and Apple Maps is a perfect example compared to Waze or Google Maps. But the gap is increasing.

It is the same with Siri. So will it be acceptable if an Apple self driving cars kills people?

I just do not get the excuses for Apple? Why have they moved from what they use to stand for?


Apple doesn't store Siri recordings for more than a short period for privacy's sake, unlike Google.


That is an excuse. Wish we could put it to rest. Here is the privacy agreement for Apple in the US.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

Apple has the ability to collect all the same data as Google but actually more. Apple actually forces you to agree to them collecting data on people you interact with.

I quote from the agreement.

"When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to participate in Apple services or forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. "

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

I get Apple is great at marketing but lets work in reality.

My issue is NOT that the Apple services are sub par but rather when did it become acceptable at Apple to have second rate user experiences?

Why are they given a pass?


They can chew gum and walk at the same time? Like keeping their $20bn/yr Mac lineup current while running an iPhone business?


That is an excuse. Plus read the privacy agreement and Apple has full access to your data. Here is their privacy agreement for your reference for the US.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

Heck they can collect who you associate with. I quote from the document.

"When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to participate in Apple services or forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. "

Historically been a big Apple hardware user but have to admit less and less. Most being replaced by Google hardware. Do carry both a Pixel 2 XL and a iPhone now as just could wait no longer for Apple to fix their products.

Replaced my Mac with a Pixel Book also for example. As well as our AirPort Extremes with Google WiFi.

I find it baffling that it is now acceptable to have poor products. The Apple that I loved for so many years NEVER settled for being good enough.


> Replaced my Mac with a Pixel Book also for example. As well as our AirPort Extremes with Google WiFi.

Some of your examples make sense but why replace your Airport with a (data mining built-in) Google WiFi? Why not a known good provider like e.g. Ubiquiti? I use their Amplifi and it works great, no "cloud" crap and their brand is reputable.


you've quoted a privacy policy that says apple will capture data when you share content, but then go onto say you're using Google products including their Wifi device, which is generally governed by Google's catchall privacy policy, which enables mass data mining.


Here is Google privacy agreement.

https://policies.google.com/privacy/update

As you can see Google agreement in reality is more limited than Apple. Google does not collect personal data from people you interact with that have not agreed like Apple.

That was my point.

BTW, have Google WiFi and a fantastic product. Replaced our AirPort Extremes and highly recommend.

What I also love is Google provides a dashboard on everything they collect all in one place and you can remove or download if you want. I am in the US and really wish Apple would provide the same transparency as Google.

I tend to be for little government but if Apple is not going to do it on their own like Google then think government should consider forcing them to.

Headlines like

“Apple TV service will share viewing data with networks, report claims”

Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/news/apple-tv-service-will-sha...

Is really bothersome with Apple. I would like the ability to instead remove my data so they can not share it.

Plus still really bothers me that Apple handed over all their user data in China to the government.

"Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users"

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/apple-privacy...

Versus Google decided to leave China instead of giving up their users data.

I am more into the facts versus narratives and marketing.


It's right in Google's list:

> We collect information about your activity in our services, which we use to do things like recommend a YouTube video you might like. The activity information we collect may include:

And within that list is:

> People with whom you communicate or share content

I think this one little bullet point is way more vague than Apples and less limiting.


It is very different to have access to your data versus people you interact with.

Apple privacy agreement allows them to collect data on my wife, kids and others I interact with.

I am pretty OK with my data being at Google. But NOT ok with data being collected from people I interact with.

Then on top Google has their dashboard in the US with everything they collect in one place and the ability to remove or download.

We have nothing like it in the US with Apple and that really bothers me. What data do they have on my kids or friends since I interact with them?

I carry both an iPhone and a Pixel 2 XL. But several of my kids have iPhones so when on holiday will share my location in iMessages but have no idea what Apple is doing with the data. No transparency like Google.

Then the entire thing where Apple handed all their customer data over to the China government have a huge issue with. I like Google approach where the China government tried to hack Gmail accounts and Google indicated not acceptable and left the country.

Seems like Apple was willing to give up their users data for the mighty buck.

To be clear I do NOT think it is acceptable to be collecting data on people I interact with! These people should be able to control if their data is collected and their control of it getting collected should be respected!

Some might not want Apple collecting it and I should never get to say it is OK for others.

My brother for example is very, very against any company having his data. He does not use an iPhone. Do not think he uses any Apple products.


What if Apple replaced their maps with Mapbox, which uses OpenStreetMap data?

Apple does use OpenStreetMap data but they barely update it.


Current OSM data license is ODBL 1.0 [1], I think Apple would have a problem with having to share modifications they made to the data (especially if they merge in data from commercial sources).

Share-Alike: If you publicly use any adapted version of this database, or works produced from an adapted database, you must also offer that adapted database under the ODbL.

[1] https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/


Isn't VW involved in here? They have pretty good maps.


Volkswagen Group / Volkswagen AG are using Here (formerly known as Nokia Here): "On 3 August 2015, Nokia announced that it had reached a deal to sell its Here digital maps division to a consortium of three German automakers—BMW, Daimler AG, and Volkswagen Group, for €2.8 billion" [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group


> at least let us use Google maps with Car Play?

This pissed me off so much it drove me to getting a pixel 2 so I could use google maps with android auto and I am 100% happy with the decision. I tried the htc one and samsung galaxy s2 a few years ago but found them clunky and slow so i switch back to the iphone. The pixel 2 though is just as quick and intuitive as my iphone was except now I get first rate support for google services. I totally recommend you try it out.

Edit: I just got a call on my pixel 2 and it said it was a suspected spammer so i ignored and unsurprisingly it left some foreign language voicemail. Thinking about it now, I'm surprised that is the first spam call I have received since switching 2 weeks ago as I use to get those usually every day on my iphone. So extra bonus for those that hate spam calls, it looks like the pixel 2 does some pretty good spam filtering for you.


Not sure which carrier you have but Tmobile has spam protection for free. I get about 1 call a day from "unknown" which I ignore, most other spams are flagged.


Apple Maps has been better than Google Maps for me (especially UI wise) for several years now.

Siri may not be perfect but she’s pretty darn good and, frankly, the only trustworthy assistant on the market.


After reading this comment, I genuinely wondered in which aspects Apple Maps is better than Google Maps, since I've mostly used Google Maps for years. So I just opened up the Apple Maps and searched a few places, and it was surprisingly responsive. There are a few deficiencies, but I could see why Apple's map itself could be good enough for 90% of people.

IMO, navigation is a different story. I think navigation is one area where the up-to-date accurate information matters, and it seems Google has advantages in this part, thanks to Waze and its massive geo data. Also, Apple navigation UI really needs some critical improvements, like first-person perspective.


It’s not perfect, but I’ve started using Apple more.

Google has picked up some “Wazy” over-aggressive routing tendencies and over optimizes at times. I think they have the problem of having too much actionable information about traffic and not enough about the road. Neither google or Waze groks traffic lights in particular.

For one route I take, if there is a 5 minute traffic jam, it will always reroute me onto a path that has long traffic lights and left turns that add 10-15m to the trip.

Apple reroutes around accidents and closures typically.


TBH Google navigation sucks in recent years. No, I'm not going to take dirt road shortcut while driving on highways is supposed to be 10min longer. If locals speed on that dirt road in their AWD vehicles, that doesn't mean I'll do 70km/h on unknown dirt road in a small FWD car.

It got to the point that I'm double-checking all Gmaps directions on other services. And if I know area well enough, I don't need Gmaps at all..


Used Google Maps all across Europe not long ago on holiday and just amazed how well it works. Kids would try with Apple Maps and mostly we would end up laughing as it directed us to some crazy place that Google Maps would get on the first try.

But my issue is the bigger picture. I just do not get why it is acceptable at Apple to provide a poor user experience with Siri and Apple Maps compared to competitors?


Incidentally, I am in Europe. Apple was laughably bad a couple years ago, but it's getting better. Although still not as good as Google. But now Apple conservative routing sometimes is better than Google's too opportunistic one.

Another problem is Google still can't get house numbering correctly. They just don't care and get be off by 0.5km in some developments. What is worst, they don't tell they don't know exact location. They pretend to guesstimate it and sometimes it goes really wrong.

Sometimes their guesstimation messes up the address itself too. For example, recently I was looking for XYZ square #123. They routed me to XYZ street #123 instead. Which was in a different neighbourhood.

All in all, neither Google nor Apple beats old good Garmin and local mapping with UI brought straight from early 00s.

Both Apple and Google and care about smaller markets or less visited locations. If 90% of their customers are happy 90% of time, I guess that's enough for them :/


Here is a nice breakdown that shows how far Apple is behind in UX.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

It is all about providing the optimal user experience which was something really important to Apple in the past.


Which again is good example of Google opportunistic not always being the expected way. It sucks when Google marks some shitty shed as building. "Oh, it's a turn behind a house!" Nope... In case of Apple, it's quite clear. "You better start looking out, we have no clue where next turn is".


But when did Apple doing an ok job become acceptable at Apple?

Why not try to provide the best user experience? Well that is how Apple use to be. Siri and mapping are important applications that are all about user experience. They should have been in the wheelhouse of Apple to innovate and provide something way better than anyone else.

Here is a great link that just lays out how much worse the user experience with Apple Maps compared to Google Maps.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

Does Apple think this is acceptable?


Building the second best consumer map product is not merely “ok”. Apple have done something that very few companies in the world have the skill or resources to be able to do.

It’s not fair to say that Apple are slacking when an amazing experience depends of solving incredibly hard computing problems that have nothing to do with product design. They’re competing against Google, a company whose entire mission is to organise and data and turn it into products.


Yes it is definitely falling short. The Apple of the past strive to provide the best user experience. Not the second best.

The issue is how large of a gap. But I would also challenge Apple Maps is #2. I would put Wave as #2 and Apple a distant #3. Here is a great breakdown to show how far behind Apple really is.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

It is even worse with Siri.

BTW, the goal is UX.


Christ dude, you're like almost 50% of the replies to this entire thread. We get it you hate apple maps. I've seen damn near this same reply by you 10 times in this thread with the same links.

Chill.


It is not about hating Apple maps. It is about Apple getting serious on fixing it and get back to being about providing the best UX.

I just do not get why things changed such that it is acceptable for Apple to provide second rated UX.

Same with Siri.


You make it sound as if they can just redirect 100 programmers for a few months and it'll instantly be better. The link you originally shared in that top-level comment goes on to show why Google's maps are so much better than Apples and it's not just a matter of UX design.


It has been years and they have a ton of money. See no reason why Apple still offers an inferrior UX.

UX is user experience. So me being able to just say a business name and the app tell me if I can get there before close and send me to the actual place is UX.

Versus having to use addresses in Apple Maps to get it to be accurate and even then not so much.


At least with Apple Maps you're not the product.


> pretty darn good

Compared to what? A cat? Siri is worst-of-class technology in terms of voice-based assistant.

I carry both Apple's latest phone and Google's latest phone, and it would never occur to me to use Siri for a voice task other than "set timer" (so it buzzes on my watch too).

It's true that Apple is the only company playing this game that I might trust with an in-home always-connected assistant appliance like HomePod/Alexa/Google-whatever, but since Siri utterly sucks, I do not.


Completely agree and have a tough time understanding how anyone could push back? Yet you are down voted?

I do not get why it is acceptable now for Apple to provide an inferior user experience? Why do people defend it?

If people really need it broken down here is a great link.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

On Siri it seems like people finally agree that Siri is horrible compared to the Google Assistant. Also why acceptable?

This is about self driving cars. Apple cars kill people will that also be acceptable? Why?


Google Assistant is more capable than Siri. Apple has lost a lot of ground.


And until Apple abandons their position on privacy as well as builds their own search engine/advertising platform they will forever struggle with Google.

For better or worse that's the road Apple chose.


More likely Google/FB's surveillance model gets incrementally banned.


It might end up superficially banned in the EU or something, but their data collection is just too valuable to America, China, and Europe's governments to actually forbid.


And that’s why I’m on their platform despite the drawbacks.


Sounds like you might want to actually read the Apple privacy agreement. Here is a copy for you.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

Think you might be surprised of what data Apple is able to collect. The one that most bothers me is quoted here.

"When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to participate in Apple services or forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. "

Apple is great at marketing but was hoping we could have a discussion on reality.


That is NOT true. Here in the US is the Apple privacy agreement.

https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/

Apple has access to all the same data. Plus Apple even takes the right to collect data on people you interact with. I quote

"When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to participate in Apple services or forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. Apple will use such information to fulfill your requests, provide the relevant product or service, or for anti-fraud purposes."

Wish we could end this narrative that is just not true. Heck Apple told the TV networks they would share your viewing data on the Apple TV.

"Apple TV service will share viewing data with networks, report claims"

http://www.trustedreviews.com/news/apple-tv-service-will-sha...

Google will target ads in some cases but they are not giving your data away to a third party.

Plus Apple handing over all their users data in China has to be the biggest privacy betrayal example with any big tech company in the US. Have we ever had anything else like it?

"Campaign targets Apple over privacy betrayal for Chinese iCloud users"

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/apple-privacy...

Ironically China gov was hacking Gmail accounts and Google instead chose to leave China.

I get marketing but hope on HN we can use reality instead of marketing narratives.


True for now, but WWDC in June might tell a different story.


Yeah, they can enlist VW's help in story telling.


I siriously doubt it.


I was responding to the "Apple has lost a lot of ground" part, I'm not suggesting Apple will overtake Google with their assistant. I should have quoted the original text.


Oh, right. Thanks for making that clear.


I wish Apple the best, but the truth is that AI powered software made by Apple just isn't good. But I still prefer Apples stance to data privacy a lot more than what Google does, even if it means it's a bit behind.

But at this point, I think the only ways to catch up is to gobble up a few AI powered startups with their cash.


I don't know, that feels a bit like saying a decade ago that Google built a search engine, what in the world do they know about building a mobile operating system?

If this fails, I don't think 'Apple has little experience with building AI-driven software' will be a prominent reason. It would in a simulated world where Apple was not allowed hire any expertise, acquire any companies or technology and spend none of its cash, but could only divert the engineers who worked on Siri to this project. Sure. But that just isn't the case.


> what in the world do they know about building a mobile operating system?

They don't. Android was an acquisition and so was Waymo.


My understanding of the story is Android was nearly completely re-written after the iPhone announcement. The first Android phone was very different from what Google purchased.


Waymo was not an acquisition.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waymo#History


Android is not a good operating system, either. They still haven't figured out updates FFS.


Well, android is open source so manufacturers can add their stuff and manufacturers decide when to update their devices (if at all). Google is being more strict on updates, as well as adding Project Treble which makes updating a device a breeze.


That's like saying Linux hasn't figured out updates yet. It's a false argument.


I think you missed my point...


You think android and waymo is built by the people who came with acqusitions?


At the time... yes. That's the point of an acquisition - to buy talent/skills/tech when you don't have that talent in-house (or to augment existing talent).

Now, many years later and with normal amounts of turn over? That's a different question all together.


Yes of course. The parts of Android and Waymo that matter most were already built, or are being built, by folks from the acquired company.


Given that at acquisition, the android team was <30 people, and it had to be mostly rewritten before it was originally launched, and has been significantly changed since then, I think this is blatantly false ;)


>They don't. Android was an acquisition and so was Waymo.

What they bought likely doesn't even exist anymore in the current code base.

Additionally, the origin of iOS is based on Apple's acquisition of NeXT.


And no one loves Apple because of iOS...


I don't think it's fair to compare this with other Apple projects. It's quite likely that they've hired specifically for this.


Isn’t good? That’s rather hyperbolic of you.

Is good enough for the cast majority of users but not as slick and quite as feature rich as the competitors? Sure.

But the privacy angle means it’s the only game in town as far as I’m concerned


The privacy angle is just a marketing ruse for chumps. When your product is worse than all others to the point of being nearly useless, you play up privacy even if you're collecting the same information (as with iCloud apps) and simply not processing it correctly, pretending that processing the data is anti-privacy.


Ask the people whose Alexa and Google searches was used as evidence against them in court whether privacy is just a "marketing ruse for chumps."


The correct way to handle this is to leave the option of retaining history up to the user. Most users want to look up what they have asked before. https://www.google.com/amp/bgr.com/2016/06/01/google-home-in...

Apple keeps that history tied to a unique user identifier for six months but doesn't let the user see it.


> it's a bit behind

A bit? The gap is large and only getting larger by the year.

Google has been working on understanding humans for 20 years and building global scale services. It's no coincidence that it is moving much faster than Apple in this space.


They’ve hired specifically for this project, and based on the friends I know working on self-driving at Apple vs. Siri at Apple, the self-driving team has a much greater concentration of talent.


Have you compared their privacy policies? Apple isn't better than Google at all. Look at other comments that breaks it down.


The "shove it all in the cloud, and collect all the data on the user forever" approach to "AI" isn't really relevant to cars, anyway, though.


It is actually, Google's test cars have driven millions of miles around in traffic, the data they got from this is being analyzed using the same techniques they use on users data (neural networks and deep learning etc).


I wonder how much this was about Apple being "spurned by BMW and Mercedes", and how much it was about "no other car manufacturer was as desperate for sales and PR as post-dieselgate Volkswagen - or were prepared to sign up to Apple's offer of outrageously onerous terms and privacy/IP ownership clauses"?


Maybe VW was just the best match.

VW have significant experience of producing cars for other manufacturers, and put a lot of effort into developing reusable "platforms". They are super popular in Europe- hitting the exact sweet spot between practicality and desirability (Top Gear described the Golf as "the car that everybody buys with their own money"). The forthcoming ID range is perhaps the strongest lineup of EVs in any manufacturer's pipeline. They need more traction in the US, and it therefore makes sense to partner with the arguably coolest US corporation.


Golf driver spotted.

But jokes aside I wouldn't be so sure about this. DHL has famously chosen StreetScooter instead of VW to built their last-mile fleet and the top brass in VW were also famously upset about this.

Also sales of the first gen Golf EV weren't even of the same order as sales of e.g. the LEAF - perhaps because VW insisted on keeping diesels alive longer than it made any sense.


>perhaps because VW insisted on keeping diesels alive longer than it made any sense.

They're still making way more money than the leaf on Diesels. Giving up on your cash cows is the most misguided business advice I've ever seen.

You should use the money from your cash cows to innovate. And wishing for more innovation on the EV side would be nice for advertisement mostly. EVs just aren't mass market yet.

It's good to have the EV knowledge ready when you need it. So far I would agree with you. But how many EVs you sell has little to do with how much you know about the technology.


> They're still making way more money than the leaf on Diesels. Giving up on your cash cows is the most misguided business advice I've ever seen.

Was that cash cow worth a global scandal, billions lost in unsaleable inventory(hundred thousands) and fines($25bln) though? I mean - they lost roughly two years of net income here and had several executives land in prison.

Nissan on the other hand invested roughly 20% of that($4bln) to develop the LEAF.

Perhaps giving up on diesels before it was too late constituted sound advice after all?


You're forgetting that Diesels are still making up a huge amount of VW group profit. Of course the scandal wasn't worth it, but it also wasn't necessary. Rather the decision to save on AdBlue was not worth it, not the Diesel technology itself.

I mean it's kind of like asking GM if it was worth it to not update their ignitions after they found out they were faulty and killed a few people (and got off easy because US company ;)). It's not a problem with ignition switch technology itself, but just this case of bad management decisions.

You can invest 4bn in EV technology, that would be smart, but those 4bn have to be made somewhere. In this case you can make this with Diesels and reinvest in EV. This is not some SV startup that will just waste its investors cash reserves until it goes broke.


> Giving up on your cash cows is the most misguided business advice I've ever seen.

Sure - but sooner or later there's a time.

The people who wouldn't give up their buggy whip manufacturing capability didn't win in the long run. (Or for more recent examples perhaps - serial/parallel ports, floppy drives, or removable phone batteries...)

Diesel passenger cars had a brief window of regulatory and technological advantage. Those started to close (eg: the tightening NOx regs and the tech and infrastructure improvements for electric cars), so the players in that game needed to change (eg: Mercedes' BluTec urea injection), get out of the game (like Toyota stopping diesel car sales in EU), or cheat (like VW chose to do).

My guess is - over the long term, Toyota's strategy will end up the best out of those choices...


> EVs just aren't mass market yet.

What’s you definition of mass market?


When the market is large enough to sustain the biggest auto conglomerate in the world (VW group) and a few competitors.

So worldwide production of vehicles is around 70million per year. VW group is making 10 million of these.

Assuming lower competition (because newer market), the worldwide market for EVs would have to be around 30-40 million vehicles per year to support a company the size of VW. EVs are currently at 1.1 million vehicles sold per year.

So the better alternative is to keep selling the cars you know how to make until it becomes unprofitable. Right now your EV market is so tiny that basically you could just research it and not even sell the cars and still be ready for when they actually constitute a big enough part of the market.


Anybody who lives in a rich part of a progressive country will have noticed that in 2018 all of a sudden people started to drive EVs, and that they are positioned as "aspirational" items.

Norway is currently at 37% of all new vehicles sold, San Jose is at 13% "on the road", 20% of americans are going to go electric for their next purchase (http://www.ktvu.com/news/ktvu-local-news/electric-vehicles-i...)

The market for EVs is kind of sort of there already.


> DHL has famously chosen StreetScooter instead of VW to built their last-mile fleet and the top brass in VW were also famously upset about this.

Any reason this is substantial news? People choose other vehicles over VW all the time, it's normally down to price.

> perhaps because VW insisted on keeping diesels alive longer than it made any sense.

Anything to back up this statement? They seem to have been doing well lately [1](https://www.ft.com/content/6e31d4e2-fb5f-11e7-9b32-d7d59aace...)


> Any reason this is substantial news?

Yes, because they've already conquered a decent part of the market:

https://www.treehugger.com/cars/one-europes-top-selling-elec...

> Anything to back up this statement?

Um, diesel scandal? People in jail? Brand image hurt? Isn't this enough?


Unfortunately VW doesn't seem to be desperate for sales. They're selling more than ever before.


That’s because they are a level above the other vehicles in the same price range.


>That’s because they are a level above in marketing to the other vehicles in the same price range.

FTFY

Reference: I‘ve owned two VWs and an Audi.


Also VW is selling a lot of the other cheaper vehicles that are advertised less as well. Skoda and Seat are VW.


So, you owned three VWs?


Desperate how? VW sells more cars now than before dieselgate..


"Apple once had grand aspirations to build its own electric self-driving car and lead the next generation of transportation. Over time, the tech giant’s ambitions ran into reality." Reality is Apple can buy VW AG for cash twice.


Reality as well is that independently from the amount of shares they buy, can only have 20% of the votes and the German state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) will always have 20.2% by law. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Act

Also: Independent from current market value and imagining the law wouldn't exist they'd still have to pay quite a surplus on the market value and then have major trouble in handling a company of that size.

(Edit: oh I missed that the law has been changed since the Porsche takeover story ...)


Ok once :)


I'm not sure if that's a joke but Volkswagen generates about as much revenue as Apple and employes 700k people, it's not exactly a small business


What part is a joke VW market cap is 85 billion. Apple cash reserves were like 280 they authorized 100 billion share repurchase so prob less now still def. enough to buy it out.


I really find it hard to believe that sitting on the cash or spending it on stock buy back is the best use of that massive massive cash pile.

Spend some on moon shots, making OS X dominant, start a cloud hosting company, consumer cloud Something history will say and Apple lost their lead because they did nothing with their cash, just like we have hind sight stories about Sony, Kodak, IBM, AT&T/bell and that rail road company


Your fallacy is the idea that you can just turn cash into well-run businesses. You can’t. Cash is (obviously) not Apple’s bottleneck. Cash is not the bottleneck for any well capitalized company, which includes most big public companies.

The bottleneck is coordination.

You start off with a few people reporting to a few bosses... all the signals are strong. Stupidity is minimized.

As a company grows, the distance between top and bottom stretches. It’s like nerves getting stretched thin and unused... eventually the signal is severed.

That’s the bottleneck for pretty much every big company. Apple can’t throw 5 billion at another moon shot because they are barely in control of the 5 billion dollar projects they are already running.

If they had another VP-ready candidate they could throw $5 billion at, they would already be doing that. Between wearables, AR, IOT, and AI they have plenty of well specified goals that are core to their product line.


Apple does not compete in commodity biz. so outside of "Spend some on moon shots" which they actually do just mostly not publicly they prob don't see were to put that much $ outside of stock buybacks.


Their cash isn’t just sitting around, they invest it via their hedge fund, Braeburn Capital, which I believe is actually the world’s biggest by AUM.


There are asset management firms with AUM well in the trillions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_asset_management_firms

That "biggest" claim is based on a Cnet article, which is based on a ZeroHedge article, and they just state it as a self-evident fact, that Bridgewater is the "biggest" hedge fund.

And it's again not clear that Braeburn is a hedge fund. (It's very composed of many smaller funds anyway, each with different risk profiles.)

That said, yes, Apple's cash is absolutely not just sitting in Tim Cook's basement.


the market capitalization just reflects the total value of all outstanding shares, not necessarily the price at which anybody would be willing to fork their shares over.

If you'd try to take over VW you'd need to put significantly more money on the table. (if the majority shareholders were at all willing to sell).


There has been a takeover attempt against Volkswagen by Porsche which failed precisely for that reason. Stock price rose, financing fell apart. And the Porsche owners already had a large chunk of the Volkswagen shares, at least in the extended family.


Actually it failed for a bunch of reasons, and by the time Porsche had to make the takeover bid they had to offer below stock price, because they ran out of money. In the end Qatar invested a billion or two (who keeps track of small change anyway) into Porsche to reduce their billions of debts a bit and VW effectively swallowed Porsche.

IIRC in the aftermath several analysts stepped forward saying the entire approach was flawed and was extremely unlikely to work out from the outset; Porsche committed some strategic mistakes later on in the process, which did not improve things.


Failed is a very strange way to put it considering that Porsche Automobil Holding SE controls a 52.2 percent voting stake in Volkswagen.


Interesting, the "VW bites back and eats Porsche" take was the one passed to public perception. The car brand did get corralled into the VAG stable.

A search on the phrase get confirming news like this: http://europe.autonews.com/article/20180310/ANE/180319954/vw...


Well again Apple has enough on hand to pay 3x the current market cap and I don't really remember situations were someone payed 3X premium in a take over of large public company. To have a controlling stake they have enough to pay 6x the current share price it would be really hard to argue that 500% premium would not be enough.


I am betting Apple buys Tesla when tesla has capital issues next year and the stock drops.


No companies would touch Tesla with the huge liabilities and mounting debt. The dream of Apple bailing out Tesla is never going to happen.


Tesla's debt is about $10 billion including that of Solar City. That is six weeks of profit for Apple.


I don't think many people have that dream :)


I can tell your analysis isn’t serious because it’s so absolute.


I wish Apple would stop chasing trends like self-driving cars and augmented reality. They used to have a strong vision for the future -- now it just looks like they're out of ideas.


I get your sentiment but i would also like to say that people scoffed at jobs holding what looked like an oversized iphone on the stage and that's been a boom for them fwict. the iphone was a product that people dismissed out of hand. the ipod was a product that people dismissed out of hand and it saved apple. hell the apple ii was pretty revolutionary back in the day.


Yeah, that's kind of what I'm saying -- instead of focusing on more "serious" things that "everyone knows are the future", I wish Apple had the courage to focus on the kind of products that people tend to dismiss as boring or derivative at first.


I think that it had less to do with apple and more to do with steve jobs. I can't think of any product from Apple after Steve Jobs died, that had any mass market effect. Either with new product or evolution of the existing product. They are still riding the Steve Jobs high.


The company has a long history and for much of that history Steve Jobs didn't hit the note either. They're still riding the brand definitely.

I think what Steve Jobs said about focus is important though. The company needs to focus on it's core strengths and innovate in these markets. http://www.casestudyinc.com/apples-four-quadrant-product-gri...


The watch was pure jony ives and it’s the best selling watch in the world.


> products that people tend to dismiss as boring or derivative

Not a good heuristic, as that describes the Apple Watch.

(Though it wasn't derivative; its contemporaries existed almost exclusively off the back of a torrent of leaks about the future Apple product. Competitors knew about it long before it was launched and raced ahead with their own junk.)

(Also I don't think the Apple Watch is boring, but it is niche. The particular niche I am fascinated with is healthcare. It's possible that within a decade or two, their Watch product could be highly disruptive.)


My point was that everything they have made was derivative in some way. Apple ii was derivative of Apple i. Macintosh was derivative of the Apple ii. iPod was a derivative of the other music devices. iPhone was a derivative of the iPod and cell phone. ipad was a derivative of the iPhone. Their watch was a derivative of the iPhone and a watch. OS X was a derivative of Mach.

Who knows where they will take ar and self driving? I would like to see what they come up with... they certainly have enough money to find out.


However, their "vision for the future" has often been more along the lines of taking concepts that have been imperfectly implemented by others and then refining them. The iPhone comes closest to representing something fundamentally new and different in the totality of hardware, software, and ecosystem. But most of Apple's success has comes through refinement and execution.

Vehicle electronics packages and AR would seem to be two areas that could benefit from refinement as the underlying technology becomes available.


What? Apple will have (has?) the biggest AR platform in the world, by far.

One of the next iPhones will have eye tracking and high quality 6dof (positional) tracking. Those two features basically turn your phone/iPad into a hand held portal into AR/VR.

The hand held form factor will be at least as big as the HMD form factor... probably bigger honestly.

Apple has prototyped this kind of experience with Pokémon Go. There is no company better positioned to take the AR market than Apple. In all likelihood your next iPhone will be the world’s dominant AR platform.

This is not fanboying... I think industrial AR and HMDs are very interesting. It’s just clear to me that Apple has the audience in both users and app developers to deliver both sides of this marketplace much faster than anyone else. And it’s also clear to me that handheld has major advantages over HMDs that will especially affect the consumer market.


I don't see what's the problem with that. If you have billions of cash laying around you have to try and invest in something else in case your main product does not work out in the future. It's not like they have limited resources and will pull engineers away from building a next mac or iphone to build a self driving car.


Apple has never been leading the pack. They were one of the last device companies to release their own MP3 players and the iPod is the device that started the wave they are still riding.

If Apple releases an AR headset, you can bet it'll basically be Google Glasses, but good.


Apple car rumors surfaced when driverless was not a trend and only done as research project by Google. I guess they thought they could leapfrog the established industry as they did with the iPhone.

But now EVERY major car manufacturer is hot for self-driving vars. Intel, NVidia, Waymo, Uber, Lyft, countless startups etc. I can’t see how Apple can contribute here something meaningful, or make money, I think they should drop the project.


I wouldn't mind seeing them try to make a pair of high end AR sunglasses, if only to compete with luxottica


I'm continually shocked at how easy tech companies think it will be to build a car.


Coming from a country whos economy is basically build around cars (Germany) I am baffled by this also. Especially when they think that they can do everything in-house. All the big car companys rely on a ton of suppliers for all kinds of stuff (ranging from drivetrain, to software from ECUs). This means they dont have to worry about a lot of stuff and can basically act as big-time system integrators.


Similarly, I don’t understand why so many people think ICE manufacturers will be able to effortlessly build electric vehicle lines. You can’t just use the same suppliers and infrastructure.


On the flipside, I think it's funny how easy some of the big car companies thought it would be to build a self-driving car. The general attitude I've seen from German car manufacturers the last years was one of "we just need to pour a bunch of software engineers on the problem". Maybe this deal is a start of a mentality-shift there.


I think both companies could gain from this.

A lot of SV companies only know software. And in software it's easy to fix bugs on the product later. Something that's impossible for mechanical things. That's why they all think it's easy to build your own car.

A car is fairly simple, but mass producing it, and getting all the suppliers to work together properly is hard.

Car manufacturers on the other hand have the tendency to treat software like hardware, because the leaders come from hardware. This leads to cultural problems with creating software.


Perhaps publicly, but people tell me that management is acutely aware how hard the problem is; this stems in part from the experience developing the various assistance systems, which was neither cheap nor easy.


Maybe some parts of management, but my impression is that it's also mostly communicated like that internally. I based my comment on conversations I had with people working at the car companies (Audi, BMW, VW and Mercedes), and all expressed that view in slight variations.


Why does attempting to do so mean they think it's easy?


Additionally, isn't that precisely why Apple are partnering with Volkswagen?


Building a car is incredibly easy. Double so if it's electric.

What's hard is (a) building lots of cars as Tesla is finding out and (b) building a perfect self driving car. Now Apple is one of the best companies in the world at manufacturing and as we've seen with FaceID they have a strong grasp of integrating neural networks into commercial products.

So I would never underestimate Apple of all companies.


Building a high-end one-off car is not a huge job. I know people from small teams who've done it. Building a large number of cars at a competitive price is hard, as Tesla found out the hard way.


It seems like there's been a lot more of their Lexus cars on the road in my part of Sunnyvale the past few weeks. They look like this: https://goo.gl/images/Kt9t3M


>In late 2015, Apple bought two Lexus S.U.V.s and hired a Virginia firm called Torc Robotics to retrofit the vehicles

More about Torc Robotics, founded by Virginia Tech autonomous vehicle competition team:

https://torc.ai/our-story/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torc_Robotics


Unless I misread this deal seems to only cover shuttling for their employees. I think Apple has realized how far behind they are in this area and I'm not sure what they can do at this point to keep up with Waymo and others.


Do they need a self driving car? Facebook isn't building one. Amazon isn't building one.

I can see why a self driving car appeals to Apple since Apple's expertise is integrating software and hardware in a high quality way but I don't see this as something the need to do to not be left behind.


> Amazon isn't building one

Amazon is working on it.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/intel-cisco-and-amazon-intro...


Neither of those companies has the cash reserves Apple has at its disposal. Nor the expertise in hardware software integration. There’s lots of things Apple can do with their cash, gaining a foothold in a data rich industry of the future is one of the more obvious ones.


An even more obvious one would be bringing their hardware up to the same spec as their competitors and fixing macOS...


I’m not sure what they can do to keep up with the Nomad or Treo.


Building a self-driving car is vastly more complex and comes with a lot more regulatory problems than building a competitor to the Nomad. Also, Apple has had trouble recruiting top AI talent, among other reasons due to their secrecy in a field where publishing is everything. Though, they have opened up a bit.

I am not saying it can't be done. But Apple has been quite bad at machine learning so far.


I don't think that they are bad, just that their focus is more on the product holistically than as a standout feature. i.e. machine learning is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Whereas Google, Amazon etc sells products and services like GCP, AWS Recognition etc. Naturally they would like to market themselves as being the experts, and have the credentialed professionals to do so.


> I’m not sure what they can do to keep up with the Nomad or Treo.

Wait for someone to walk in the door with a design that Philips rejected?


They can spend a pile of money on an acquisition, but that’s about it.


The project has suffered from repeated changes in direction that have hurt morale and led to hundreds of departures from its peak of more than 1,000 members two years ago, five former Apple employees said. ...

Instead, Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker’s new T6 Transporter vans into Apple’s self-driving shuttles for employees — a project that is behind schedule and consuming nearly all of the Apple car team’s attention, said three people familiar with the project.

This is more like "we give up, but will do a symbolic project so we don't look too stupid."

This is harder to do than the web/mobile crowd thought. This is hard real time high-reliability, like avionics. Google/Waymo gets this. Most of the others don't. So far, Tesla, Uber, Volvo, and Apple have failed. Not sure about Cruise yet, but I saw one of their vehicles get stuck behind a double-parked car in SF and the human had to take over.


Your Google bias is showing. How have the other companies "failed"? Apple hasn't even started and it has "failed"?


"Hasn't even started"? They had a thousand people working on self-driving cars at one point.


Can a product be considered a failure if it was never made available for sale to the public? This is exactly why Apple is secretive about its projects. Sure, there have been true failures like the iPod Hi-Fi, the eMate, the 20th Anniversary Mac etc. But to consider the car project to be a failure is presumptuous and premature.


>Can a product be considered a failure if it was never made available for sale to the public?

Yes.


So Grab, Didi Chuxing, Go-Jek etc do not have self-driving cars projects. Have they failed? Are they failing?


If they never started those products, then those products have not failed since they never existed.

There's a difference between a product and a company by the way.


We do not know if they have these projects because there is no definitive information about them. Even the people who do know may choose to sandbag and outright lie about it. And that's my point; it's ridiculous to judge whether something is a failure when the market has not had a chance to decide if it was a failure or not. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters.


Anecdata: It used to be an almost perfect predictor in my social circles that people who owned a VW also owned lots of Apple gear. Two different people I knew where both VW enthusiasts AND Apple iPod collectors (these two things used to also be strong predictors of several other consumer habits coincidentally).

It's a good match in terms of synergy, but I don't see it doing much to grow the customer base of either company even if it might grow the revenue per customer. A term I've used for it in the past is "choir mining" where you keep squeezing your existing customers.


Can they please make Maps and Siri usable first?


What's not "usable" about Maps? Other than the data being somewhat being Google's data, which isn't a usability issue?


They are OK.

Not sure about US, but here in New Zealand they don't work so well.

I try Apple Maps ~once in 6 months, They are definitely getting better and better, but still no comparison to Google Maps.


I have a feeling the iOS Maps engineers aren't building cars?


The world is in need of a good computer company that actually cares about computers and wont get distracted by devices, TV shows and definitely not cars.


yes, including computer software (if it's only hardware then Lenovo and a few others seem to be fine). but with all the PC pioneers gone it seems difficult to achieve. I wish Alan Kay had more entrepreneurial spirit, I think his group has (always had) all the right ideas on how to actually harness the power of PCs.


I really wonder why they chose a T6 as the platform, if MOIA as a 100% daughter of Volkswagen already has developed a vehicle very close to what is described as goal for the T6: https://www.moia.io/vehicle/


If the car will be self driving, I wonder if it would be less scary if you sit backwards.


The vehicle has only forward-facing seats...


If they're using the T6 platform they will kit it out however they like.


I wonder if this is the Motorola ROKR all over again


If that’s true we should see an Apple Car ~2 years after the Volksapfel is released!


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