Apple’s Foray Into Self-Driving Cars Shows Power of Manufacturing Diversity
When Apple announces a new product, fans line up around the block at their local Apple Store to be the first to get their hands on it. Each new year brings a new version of the iPhone or a refresh of its MacBook line of laptops. But the next major product from Apple isn’t going to be so easy to get your hands on, and it’s not as simple as a phone you can replace.
Project Titan has been revealed as Apple’s foray into self-driving cars. And while it’s a far cry from phones and laptops, it’s more on-brand for Apple than most people realize.
Meet Project Titan, an Apple … car?
Project Titan isn’t a new development for Apple. The company’s interest in self-driving cars — or at least vehicle technology — goes back to 2014, when it committed roughly 1,000 employees to a then-secret project. Word leaked out about a potential automobile play and the world balked at Apple for a moonshot idea. In 2016, the project was purportedly shelved while the company focused on other initiatives.
Now, in 2021, Apple has revealed that it’s still committed to automotive technology and taking its biggest stride yet toward bringing an “Apple car” to the masses. Under the leadership of John Giannandrea, Apple’s AI and machine learning chief, the company has engaged with carmaker Hyundai, and will reportedly sign an agreement before the end of the first quarter to formally develop an autonomous vehicle.
Apple’s automotive foray is on-brand
In the 1980s, Apple was a computer company. In the 2000s, it became a tech company. This subtle shift in lexicon equates to a huge shift in focus.
Apple was the first to pioneer the modern-day smartphone, but it’s far from a telecom company. It produced the Apple Watch, but it’s not a fitness company. In 2019, it launched the Apple Card, but it’s not a bank or a credit card company. So why is its foray into self-driving vehicles such a stretch?
The fact is, Apple’s status as a tech company means its focus is wherever its consumers are. In an ever-digitizing world, vehicles are one of the major ubiquitous staples that still has yet to break the digital plane in a meaningful way. Parking assist, lane detection, and other technologies are merely a preview to the possibilities of a true self-driving car. Apple’s pursuit of breakthrough technology in this arena is no different than its mission to put a smartphone in everyone’s pocket or a smart watch on everyone’s wrist.
Now’s the time for diversification
Although Project Titan took shape in 2014, its resurgence in 2021 isn’t a coincidence. Apple is positioning itself for growth in a major way after the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s accomplishing this not by doubling down on its staples, but by investing in the cash cow of the future. It’s a lesson every manufacturer needs to follow.
Manufacturers following Apple’s example of diversification into new value streams will find themselves poised to capitalize on new markets, new revenues, and new market share. Should the Apple Car come to pass, it’ll serve as an example for how aggressive pursuit of new opportunities can reward people, shareholders, and the company.