Apple might have Think Different in its corporate genetics, but the company has evolved through the years. The secrecy remains, but slowly, surely, steadily, Apple has opened itself up and become more predictable so customers and critics alike can peer inside to see some of what might be coming down the road.
These days Mac, iPhone, iPad, and even Watch users are treated to public beta versions of their respective operating systems, a dramatic change from Apple a decade ago when secrecy remained supreme. Historically, Apple launched a new product, and we would stand in line to buy, then comment or criticize accordingly. Much of that routine changed when the iPhone was introduced in 2007.
Circumstances required that Apple introduce the iPhone six months before it could launch the newly iconic device. Even Apple Watch was announced many months before the first version shipped.
What about Apple Car?
Today’s darling of the auto industry is Elon Musk’s Tesla. For all the hubris, bravado, and good press (and, recently, some bad press regarding semi-autonomous driving problems), Tesla almost didn’t make. What happened? Building a new car from scratch is hard work. Tesla started with a less expensive Roadster model to test the waters, gin up some positive press, and very importantly, get the manufacturing process working. Think of Roadster as Tesla’s beta car.
Where is Apple’s beta Car?
Beta? It won’t happen, but Apple Car will have a slow roll out with plenty of the typical non-Apple funded hype which supports every new venture from Cupertino.
• informal short for beta test: their database system is currently in beta | [ as modifier ] : beta software.
Tesla succeeded despite the odds against making an all-electric car that people were and remain willing to pay over $100,000 for the privilege to buy without the all important ‘try.’ If Roadster was Tesla’s beta product, how will Apple get around the need to put manufacturing processes in order while it drums up interest and demand (and avoids the problems associated with the DeLorean failure)?
A few questions remain.
Will Apple target the premium selling space above, below, or on the same level as Tesla? There are advantages to each, but comparisons will be inevitable and because so much of Tesla’s success is software related, Apple will need to be somewhat secretive about the Apple Car’s technical prowess until the car is ready for test drives.
Tesla’s market positioning makes it difficult for Apple to claim the expensive premium end of the electric car industry. Apple would need to do more than Tesla at the same price points, or drop well below Tesla’s Model S average selling price (while the Model X and Model 3 will push an average selling price dramatically lower over the next few years) to provide a compelling reason for buyers to flock to Apple’s Car.
Will Apple also follow Tesla and not have dealers?
Apple has over 300 Stores in the U.S., most in shopping malls. Tesla also has small kiosk-like stores in many shopping malls. But no dealers.
Unanswered questions are going to be the norm until Apple actually announces and then launches Apple Car.
- Will you be able to drive an Apple Car before the first models roll off the assembly line?
- Will Apple Car be autonomous?
- Will Apple car be priced higher or lower or the same as comparable Tesla models?
- Will Apple setup its own manufacturing or partner with an established manufacturer?
- How long will the wait be from announcement to availability?
- What will Apple Car do different?
Here’s my educated guesstimate. No beta. Apple Car will be announced, then launched months later, but with a limited number of cars available to test drive. Pricing will be closer to Tesla Model S levels; performance will be similar. People will wait in lines to test drive Apple Car. Apple will build its own factory.
What do you think?