Apple Car Rumor: Understanding Apple’s R&D

While it is fun to ponder all the scenarios in which Apple makes a car and why, my personal takeaway is to reflect on what this tell us about Apple’s research and development process. Understanding this at a fundamental level is much more interesting than spending time focusing on the potential production of an Apple car.

Being a part of a research firm who has studied Apple since its start has advantages when thinking about the company. What we have learned from decades of observing and studying Apple is their research and development process involves a central question. What would it look like if we (Apple) made [insert any tech product here]? The reason for this, I think, is clear with a central statement from Jony Ive in the profile piece on him in the New Yorker.

the creation of Apple products required “invention after invention after invention that you would never be conscious of, but that was necessary to do something that was new.”

Apple is in the process of inventing all kinds of things all the time for the reason Ive mentioned. It is the process by which they come up with something new. This is key since, when you look at many R&D labs from the major tech companies as I have, rarely are they capable of coming up with something new out of thin air. Meaning, when trying to create the future, or a product no one has thought about yet, you usually do it by tackling existing products and trying to make them better. It is in that process the idea for something brand new takes shape. Who knows how many of Apple’s products have come from them trying to build something completely different? This is the point.

Maybe Apple will release a car, or maybe they won’t. Maybe this exercise in attempting to build a car, manufacture new components (like batteries), machine new types of metal, or countless other things in the process could lead to many new product ideas for Apple to take to market.

It is this process I am more interested in than spending brain power thinking through the product itself. But the car represents the kinds of products Apple is fond of making. Ones that are more personal, more emotional by nature, and are poised to have more computing integrated and impacting people’s lives.

So will Apple make a car? We will cross that bridge in many years. But I’m more excited about all the new things Apple invents that lead to life changing technology for their customers.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

6 thoughts on “Apple Car Rumor: Understanding Apple’s R&D”

    1. HA. True. If I had the luxury of only having to think about Apple as my primary job function perhaps I’d be able to have more fun with it. 🙂

  1. How can one understand Apple’s R&D without access to Apple’s R&D? They disclose when it ships, under those filters it’s “r&D”. Doesn’t make it so, but there is no way to judge otherwise. Also, there’s nothing wrong with it, unless we are led to believe there’s a call from Stockholm in October. Or…the mindshare that they’re the only one’s doing R&D worthy of anything.

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