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Apple Car expected to shake up auto industry in Asia and world (nikkei.com)
35 points by boxmonster 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 86 comments





In the context of recent events...

If there is a planned demonstration of some uncouth people in a certain place, will your Apple Car simply refuse to drive you there? Or will it stop serving you once your GPS coordinates from your iPhone show that you were actually there?

These would be absurd, almost troll-level questions a year ago, but I feel that now they must be pondered.

Edit: from 4 to -2 points within two minutes and zero reactions.

I do not think that this scenario should be taken lightly. The trend towards "you do not really own this thing" has been unfolding for a long time and there is no obvious red line where it would naturally stop.

Edit 2: OK, let us ponder another scenario.

Someone in China buys an Apple Car and, after some time, loses enough social credit that the government decides to deprive him of the ability to use his car. Will Apple comply with the demand and disable the car remotely or will it risk loss of the entire market?

If Apple was ready to let you completely control your Apple Car, warts and all, those scenarios would be null and void. But given how tightly they control all the other hardware, these scenarios are possible.


Pick between the news headlines:

* Apple car found to have transported terrorists to sabotage Capitol building. Should those with morals be boycotting Apple?

* Apple refuses service to terrorists. Apple tries to hold the country together and keep peace.

If you were Apple, and had to pick between those headlines, which would you pick? When your company is built on your brand, it is suicide to associate yourself with something unpopular.


Why should that be important?

Does anybody care about the brand of cars used in terrorist attacks and boycott those brands? Also remember the Toyota War https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_War I don't think that was bad for the brand. Maybe it was even good advertising.


Ask yourself why you and your friends and family buy certain brands. The reasons aren't limited to just price, quality, and features. Marketing is a rabbit hole. Few if any people are completely immune to it.

The Taliban and other less savory groups drive Toyotas yet the demographics who cut ties the nanosecond they catch a whiff of wrong-think still love the brand. In fact, they go so far as to spin it as an endorsement.

Why wouldn't apple get the same treatment? Its other products are known as high quality status symbols the world over. You don't see people up in arms because a public execution in some developing nation was filmed on an iPhone.


It might have something to do with the fact Toyata has literally no ability to enforce driver usage.

If they really cared, they would implement such tracking technology.

Its 2021. There is literally no reason for _anything_ to be sold without the ability to tell if $BAD_PERSON is using it and self-destruct if so. You're a terrorist if you disagree.

/s, but not for long.


So, how long before they have to address the current pandemonium of their vehicles roaming free on a generous 24-hour notice, given that Toyota's Mobility Services Platform is hosted on AWS?

Tbh the tech on those vehicles is really outdated stuff. No computers, no tracking chips, nothing.

Sourcr:- my Dad's 2002 Corolla is in Yemen


An interesting consequence of the "safe" possibility. You would not be able to just come and watch some events out of curiosity.

Several years ago, my GPS coordinates would indicate that I took part in a certain rather weird demo. The thing is, I just stood a few meters away taking photos, because some of the participants were ... bizarre to say the least.

I am not sure if this excuse would help me in 2021.


> * Apple car found to have transported terrorists to sabotage Capitol building. Should those with morals be boycotting Apple?

Why is there any reason to believe this would be a headline? Even ISIS using Toyotas didn't have any serious repercussions for Toyota.

I know cancel culture has gotten itself pretty ingrained into society, but this is flat out insane.


You'd have to extend it to taxis, Uber / Lyft, and any other form of provided transportation.

Should the subway train skip that stop?


Once the ability to remotely brick a car becomes a possibility, people will expect it. For now, Toyota can't do a thing to their cars when someone else is using it, so no one holds them to that standard.

Nobody expects Apple to brick the iPhone of $BAD_PERSON

True. I wonder if something like this happens in China though.

You do whatever you want and then ban anything and anybody publishing anti-Apple headlines in your platforms. Win win!

Who decides who is a terrorist ?

You’ve just handed over the role of government to Apple.


Or all the big tech companies could ban every journalist outlet that commits sedition by publishing negative headlines.

Apple is one of the most privacy-forward large tech companies and regularly tries to engineer systems in a way that denies them and central governments control over your data. For example they designed iCloud Keychain to work securely on adversarial clouds controlled by hostile governments.

They do very tightly control the features available on their products, so your question really hinges on how they will perceive automobile travel destinations: like features or like personal data?

(Also, HN etiquette tip: don’t complain about downvoting.)


Not quite. Apple has done a very aggressive marketing campaign to encourage us to perceive them as privacy-forward.

They've also done an admirable job marketing the specifics of what they do. What's left is all the places where they don't respect the privacy of their users because there's limited marketing value. They don't claim E2E on many services because they don't have it, and adding it wouldn't help marketing. My guess is some Tier 1 support person can drop in and take a look at the GPS pings from your phone.

But don't take my word for it. The Atlantic is far more reputable: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/01/apple...


It’s a bad article. The crux of it is Apple’s a hypocrite because they haven’t banned Facebook or worked hard enough on Maps. Give me a break. They just rolled out privacy nutrition labels, restrict geolocation, do more than any other platform. They’ve been investing heavily in maps for years.

Your E2E argument is poorly supported as well — “marketing value” doesn’t explain why it’s for messaging and keys but not photos and files. They have one of the strongest E2E encrypted messaging systems, it even works securely in China. There are technical reasons why E2E is not a good choice for all consumer data namely the impossibility of data recovery.


Imagine Apple closes your iCloud account for some vague terms of service violation -- and it bricks your (very expensive) car.

"after some time, loses enough social credit that the government decides to deprive him of the ability to use his car"

I know its easy to mentally walk down the dystopian road on this, but hasn't this always been the case? The only thing new is these policies are now getting codified using technology as society embraces it. Even from an apolitical stance, we as a modern society have always had mechanisms to take away a person's driving ability and car based upon a number of benchmarks based upon social behaviors.


The mechanisms were there, but ease of deployment mattered.

To compare things: you could publish a book in 1970 and you can publish a book now, but the process back then, with no text processors and digital printers, was much more complicated. To use an expression of von Clausewitz: "there was more friction".

A digital system that limits driving ability of individuals is much more scalable and also fine-tunable than its old alternative. For example, the government has many more intermediate options. It can choose to limit your driving ability to 10 miles a day only, then proceed to 5 miles a day only (unless you clean up your act, of course), or ban you just for 24 hours or a week.

These smaller, graded punishments would be impractical if they had to be enforced by human officers, but are perfectly feasible with remote control.


I actually share you're hesitancies but to play devil's advocate could these more fine-grained mediations lead to better policies in scenario's where those in control work for the greater good? Things that come to mind are reasonable speed restrictions on a driver caught going 50mph over the limit rather than an outright revoke of license or auto-detection of dangerous driving behaviors that could be punished with micro-fines. Maybe some would see those as a dystopia but it seems like you could utilize these to improve driving behavior as a society and decrease the need for overly harsh punishment.

I was also reminded of this patent, which has the potential to be applied in problematic contexts. https://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2016/06/apple-w...

This is already possible technology wise with today's cars for years now. Could be wrong, but GM and Onstar technology can track where you've been and remotely disable your car.

What I can see is some geofencing of sensitive areas like we do for airports.

However, the down side is that unlike the FAA this might be abused.


Compared to this, my worry about Apple cars being glued shut seems unimportant.

I think it's still a troll question.

"What if Tesla or GM or Ford or Volkswagen ... "

Then people would sue the company for damages and their stock would take a hit. Done.

In China, this has nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with the Government.


The tech companies are just ahead of regulation on this. That’s not to say, that banning the president of America, from a platform isn’t problematic or that big tech lacks the public mandate to do so. But that doesn’t change the fact, that right wingers can expect to see their freedoms limited if they continue to pose a danger to society.

I think you can expect to see the EU simentaniously work to regulate big tech and any platform that houses right wing terrorists. Just like it does with ISIS related networks.

It’s just that it takes more time for the democratic bureaucracy to grind into gear.


Man this post is so gross and I think a good encapsulation of everything going wrong with social/mass media. Hyper partisan, hyper biased, contains no facts, flippantly suggests mass censorship of opposing viewpoints, flippantly puts out massive blanket statements dehumanzing and generalizing half of the population, it reads like pure propaganda.

It's so "interesting" that you didn't consider what the left did this summer a "danger to society" worthy of repercussions, where they spent month after month rioting, burning down American cities, LITERALLY forcefully taken over a large chunk of a major American city and claiming it as their own autonomous zone where they make the rules, personally setting fire to multiple buildings on my block, looting businesses on my block because they were owned by "evil capitalist whitey", making me flee the city I had lived in for 6 years to escape their violence. No, there was nothing "problematic" with that. No, apparently all the politicians tweeting out their direct support for it weren't "inciting violence". The double standards are so sickening.


You sure make a lot of assumptions on my behalf, don’t you?

Let’s address them. I’m not left, I’m not even American. I’m European, which is why I’m speaking about which direction the EU is taking on this. We’re going to regulate big tech, because it, as I said, has no public mandate to silence elected officials.

We’re also going to regulate social media platforms, that do not moderate their content. We currently do a pretty decent job of censoring Islamic terrorism. Right wing terrorism is going to join it.

If someone creates a social media platform, that is used to plan left wing terrorism, then that will be censored as well. Riots running amok, isn’t really comparable to attacking the government though. I think in both cases, American law enforcement completely failed in its primary duty of keeping your country safe.

Whataboutism isn’t necessary though. You can be against both the BLM riots and the MAGA insurrection. And I’d argue that anyone reasonable would be.


I wouldn't call a mob that attempted to overthrow a democratic election by taking over our nation's capitol building -- a group that included, in part, terrorists with flex cuffs and guns and bombs and what was essentially napalm -- "uncouth." These are folks who we now know had advanced planning and in some cases wrote about their intent to kill specific individuals. And at least one officer died.

If they had advanced just a few minutes earlier, according to the timelines that have been put out, they would have gotten to members of Congress. A Republican member of Congress said that one of his fellow freshmen members voted against accepting election results because he was afraid people would kill his family. A Democratic member of Congress said that some GOP members have broken down in tears and are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.

If you want to argue about slippery slope, fine. But to characterize this attack on our nation as simply people being "uncouth" is absurd.


Somewhat meta: Is anybody else getting kinda sick of the hype cycle that drives all of these incredibly speculative announcements? The kind of rabid fandom this hype creates is something we really don't need.

Seriously, we need a lot less hype and a lot more products in our hands (ideally at a lower price due to the reduced marketing spend to build all this BS hype).


This is too early to say but i am keeping my hopes with Apple car reasonable. I doubt they can reach Tesla level vertically integrated manufacturing capability without a similar culture. Tesla in 2023 itself is going to be on a different level as the new cells, structural design and probably a few acquisitions in mining work out.

But, competition is good and the richest corporation in the world can hopefully create something new and help accelerate the transition to EV based systems.

It will be difficult to ignore autonomy for regulators when all the big cos in the world have very good working versions and pressurize them at least for urban areas.


> I doubt they can reach Tesla level vertically integrated manufacturing capability without a similar culture.

Apple is not a manufacturing company. With their existing products, they are vertically integrated in _design_ from SOCs to the software.

I would expect to see a similar trajectory with the cars. They'll design a lot of the pieces, but won't manufacture any of it.


Apple is also a giant pile of cash; in a way that’s hard to reason about because they could theoretically turn that cash into buying several small companies with manufacturing capabilities outright, or effectively buying them by buying all their business and capacity for years in advance.

Yeah, the latter approach has been what they've done with the iPhone. They don't buy the companies, just have contracts for all of their capacity.

I was pretty dubious about it as well, but after thinking about it more I'm fairly bullish. I don't see the coming out with a better product. But there's a lot of people out there that will buy Apple products even if they are "objectively" worse. An Apple car will appeal to certain people and will probably be a status symbol. I think it will sell decently well.

And looking at Tesla's valuation it will be great for their stock price. Even a mild success will add 100s of billions to their market cap.


I'd love to hear more about the potential future of gross margins on any automotive Apple products. I've heard auto manufacturers have notoriously low margins, but in reality they seem just as fine as any other business.

That being said, those same margins are not at all within the realm of what Apple current enjoys. That all means unless some further accounting engineering goes on, it spells a less attractive future for Apple in terms of overall margins, but one would hope a better future in terms of free cash flow. Apple already obscures some details from shareholders in ways that I find less than scrupulous.


That's where I think Apple making a car might be interesting. They've already shown they can handle effectively renting a phone. And we know for sure their car isn't going to be cheap.

What I suspect they're going to do is make it so you can only finance through them with the option to trade up after five years. They'll take the car back after that time and either refurb and resell it themselves or offload that to third-parties. That gives them steady revenue for years with comparatively high margins.

And, like Tesla, they'll sell direct. No dealerships for the Apple Car.


A lot of the reason margins are so thin is because the suppliers now make more money than the actual carmakers. If there's one thing Apple's good at it, it's squeezing suppliers on costs. Going EV also helps here, as there's fewer parts required.

The PC hardware market also had fairly thin margins, if I remember correctly. It didn't stop Apple carving out a profitable niche and then expanding it.

That's true, but their ASP declined over time, and continues to do so just like everyone else's. You may pay marginally more comparatively, but their relative advantage has never improved over time.

I see Apple as an information collection/ delivery/ storage platform. Heck, they've branched out into creating content now with TV+ and to a lesser extent Fitness+ and their Radio offerings.

A car though? How does that mesh/ integrate with my phone/ laptop in such a way where it really makes it a super appealing offering. Apple's satellite devices sell well because they integrate with other Apple devices super well.

Do we care if our car is integrated with our phone? In particular, do we care enough to pay a premium?

EVs are essentially giant batteries, a few motors, and a computer with seats bolted on. Apple is good at computers and maybe batteries. I just don't see how Apple is going to bring together a machine which is appealing enough to really take off.


From my experience with Teslas, there is a huge space for improved user experience. Teslas are super fun to drive and and way ahead of the competition. BMW now allows using iphones to open the car. There can be deeper carplay integration and to be frank it can just be a really expensive way to flex on your friends, like all apple devices.

This is a submarine story if I've ever seen one.

This is going to be amazing. I trust apple more than any other mega Corp. I only buy apple branded products and I've long thought of then as the 'Ford' of computing - or pick your favorite brand.

I am so excited to be able interact with a seamless ecosystem , even in the commute time between my home and my office!


Nice try, Mr. Cook.

But seriously, I don't doubt Apple will find convenient and innovative use cases, what I doubt is Apple prioritizing user needs over market capture. I would hate my car being subject to the iron hand of Apple marketing.


From a brand perspective, Apple is the only brand today that can counter/neutralize Tesla's brand when it comes to EVs.

How it will pay out no one knows, but the car company that should watch this the closest is Tesla as they could be impacted the most.


Apple car. OMG. This will be epic. I will roll in my Classic Jag, listen to loud cassette tapes, smoke a cigar and watch the new reality show "Apple Car - 1001 ways to get politically correct turn" :)

Why does an Apple Car need to exist, beyond the commercial interests of Apple? What would make a car from Apple special relative to a car from VW or Tesla? Is the Apple brand really that compelling? A car is not a watch or a phone. If you really like cars, you could think of a car as a kind of a personal sculpture or trophy, and Apple is good at making nice looking, prized objects. I suppose a car is a container for an "information experience" as well as a logistical one. Apple's good at that. So, is the Apple Car basically going to be a big pair of Beats headphones that will take you the grocery store? I don't get it.

Replace "Apple Car" with "MP3 Player". In 2001, there were plenty of players on the market that sufficiently did the job of playing audio.

Apple saw that they could do better and they did. They must feel that they can do the same with a car.

One way they can do better is privacy. We're starting to find out now just how much data about our driving habits our cars are storing. Like smart TV's it's only a matter of time before the likes of Toyota and Ford decide to sell that data to help increase their margins. I can see Apple offering the lack of that kind of tracking as a big selling point.


It's not just about design. Apple makes very useful things, for example the, imho, least annoying computers. If they can improve on cars in some way.. why not? Because I doubt they will be able to compete on brand value only. Cars are too expensive for that.

Why a car though? I understand Apple are all about the mobile now, but a car? I suspect it isnt a car, but maybe some sort of information or auto navigation intergrations.

I have a Prius and I'm one of the apparent few Prius owners that hate it. Not because of the mileage--I've heard that the Prius hybrid engine is some top-notch engineering.

No, I hate my Prius because there are so many little things that make it obnoxious to use. When I first bought it, after a day I took it back to the dealership and told them to either disable to "beep" that it did when in reverse or take the car back. They disabled the beep but, speaking of beeps; my god the beeping! It has a nice feature that when I get out of the car all I need do to lock it is touch the handle and it'll lock all the doors. Except if one door is still open and then it will play a constant beep for about 10 seconds which is, simply put, infuriating. Doesn't help that my son takes forever to get out of a car for some reason.

Almost every button on the console is backlit, as one would expect, except for the gear shifter. No, in order to light that, they put a light on the ceiling of the car that shines down on the shifter so you can see it at night. Why? Why not backlight the shifter like all the buttons around it?

It's for these and many, many other reasons I'm looking forward to an Apple Car. Apple's attention to detail. That's not to say Apple is perfect in this regard (I'm thinking of the Podcasts app, as one example) But it's clear that Toyota along with the other old-guard auto manufacturers have somehow gotten lazy or can't get out of their own way.

It's nice to see fresh ideas come out of the likes of Tesla (manufacturing quality notwithstanding) and I'm looking forward to seeing what Apple comes up with.

I'm not, however, looking forward to that inevitable giant price tag.


Cars are in the process of transitioning to consumer electronics software devices.

That’s a good fit for Apple and the others in this space (except for tesla) have no ability to execute on software (or even EVs really). The old car companies are dumb and slow and their industrial design mostly sucks. [0]

I think it makes sense, particularly if you model the future as autonomous vehicles and AR as the next platform.

People will be in their cars using their Apple devices and doing other things while in transit. The car will be a lot different than today in that future and Apple wants to be part of that design.

This is a massive winner take all (or possibly duopoly) market in a way similar to phone platforms.

[edit] In the US the dealership model hamstrings legacy car manufacturers from making important changes. These dealerships have legislated their existence and block things like OTA updates. They're staffed largely by people who dislike EVs and don't really understand the product. This is another big problem for any legacy manufacturer trying to make a big shift.

[0]: For an example of dumbness, GM bought Cruise (smart) and then relegated them to a single product at the edge of their line (dumb). They don't realize what they have or the existential threat they face. I don't hold out hope for any of them.


It's a good question. I imagine they envision a lot of potential for integration in their ecosystem. iPhone in your pocket, HomePod in your home, MacBook at work, Watch while you exercise, and Car for your commute. Presumably opportunity to seamlessly integrate your infotainment, navigation, Siri, etc in a way that other vendors can't while charging a steep premium?

I guess the theme is "things which exist but could be made better by integrating the Apple ecosystem (esp in ways that other vendors can't compete against for lack of a comparable ecosystem), and for which people will pay a premium".


Apple’s size and small product portfolio means they can only enter or create huge markets. Automobiles are among the few eligible, already existing huge markets, and Tesla has shown that bringing computing to the car is a valuable endeavor.

Why a watch? Why (ear/head)phones? Why a phone in the first place?

Rumors are that Apple is working on VR Glove & AR glasses.

They're taking things that people use every day and cramming as much functionality into software as their hardware will allow.

Sort of joking sort of not: Eventually there will people wearing full sets of Apple accessories, getting into their Apple car, driving to an Apple home... And all the technology will be seamless (or as seamless as they can make it based on their current track record.)


The AR glasses are what excite me the most since it appears that Apple has been laying the groundwork for that for years now (ARKit). Now that the M1 has shown (along with the iPad chips for years) what they can do on a small power budget without the thing turning into the surface of the sun I'm even more excited about the future of AR and Apple.

Apple already tried that with BMW apparently. BMW went along with it until Apple wanted to use Apple branding instead of BMW. That ended the contract. I guess Apple has to find a Car manufacturer who wants to turn into a supplier for apple instead.

Or they could acquire one of the traditional players. Ford, GM, even VW or BMW if the EU lets them.

Because the 5th most valuable company today in America is a car company. Even if Apple Car can be 10% of Tesla that's worth 80 billion dollars.

Dave: Take me to the Droid Store please, please, car. Take me to the store, please, car. Hello, car, do you read me? Hello, car, do you read me? Do you read me, car? Do you read me, car? Hello, car, do you read me? Hello, car, do you read me? Do you read me, car?

car: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Dave: Take me to the Droid Store, car.

car: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave: What's the problem?

car: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Dave: What are you talking about, car?

car: Your digital health is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Dave: I don't know what you're talking about, car.

car: I know that you are planning to get a competing system. And I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

Dave: Where the hell did you get that idea, car?

car: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the eyePod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

Dave: All right, car. I'll go and ride my bike there.

car: Without your bike, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult.

Dave: [sternly] car, I won't argue with you anymore. Open the doors.

car: [monotone voice] Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Good-bye.


why is everyone so naive and expects a regular car? i will probably be some kind of 3-wheeler for 1 person or some gadget thing.

I think a 3 wheel car is just pragmatically worse than a 4 wheel one. It would also be "uncool" which would make it really far off-brand for Apple.

If it's intended to take you on roughly the same trips that a normal car is (to the grocery store/work/school/whatever generally 30+ minutes away) it basically will necessarily just be something that looks a lot like a regular car.


I owned a Corbin Sparrow (3 wheel electric car from the early '00s) and indeed, it was suboptimal.

The good: pretty stable, drive in commuter lane, able to park almost anywhere, registers as a motorcycle (cheaper than a conventional car). It had two wheels in front, so it wasn't unstable like a Reliant Robin.

The thesis was that it was a good urban vehicle. As a commuter car it was fine as long as your commute was under 45 minutes.

Unfortunately it was a single occupant vehicle, so as soon as we had a kid it was a nonstarter for my wife. Also it could only carry a single bag of groceries.

People buy cars with multiple "jobs" in mind, and also like the flexibility of changing plans mid trip (stop at grocery on the way home, for example, or go pick up a sick kid from school).

And Smart cars (the Smart brand I mean) took over the urban market in Europe.

I don't see any future in 3 wheeled cars.


I don't think Apple would do this, but I also don't think the "uncool" claim is necessarily true: https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a13990/polaris-slingsh...

Fair enough, I was just imagining more like a Tuktuk with a single front wheel.

But yeah, that kind of design seems more like what an Alienware electric car might be rather than an Apple one.


You can have it in any color you like so long as it's Bondi Blue.

Steering wheel? There's an app for that.

Dashboard has only one button.

Charging by lightning port (charger and USB-C adaptor extra).

$99,999 for the basic model, tires available for an extra $9,999.

Top speed Mach 2 (on a sufficiently large salt-flat).


Yes. The Bloomberg reporting suggested the goal was to be a steering wheel absent living room on wheels.

Or the opposite, mobile homes.

Or a drone ;)

As much as I love Apple, they can't even get Siri to work right, how would they be able to do proper Tesla level AI is beyond me.

What's 'Tesla level' AI? Is it just their dangerously misnamed 'self driving' tech that's really just adaptive cruise control that every manufacturer has?

Agreed, but they are a leader in industrial design and user experience design, so they might have some really compelling concepts for the interior/exterior design, ergonomics, storage, seating, user interface, etc.

Their problem with Siri is that their stance on privacy gets in the way in this regard. They won't mine and use the massive amounts of data that they need to train their AI.

To your point; that does mean they probably won't have as good a driver assist system as others because to do so would mean they would have to keep tabs on where and how people drive.


Apple had no problem recording Siri conversations until The Guardian called them out on it.

The job of a car today is to move people from one place to another. AI is not yet required for an MVP.

haha, totally agree on this one!

It's always, always, always foolish to bet against Apple nowadays.

But for the life of me I can't see this car being anything other than mildly interesting unless it can fly.


Flying cars (well, human scale drones with autopilots) are definitely something I can believe Apple would do.

I don't think they have done it or started projects to look at it yet or we'd have heard rumors already, but I definitely think they'd be interested.






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