Where there's smoke, there's fire, and a flurry of reports, spy shots, and "leaks" point to Apple working on something car-related. But nobody has any idea what it is.
In the past few days, reports of Apple working on something in the automotive space have hit a fever pitch. First came a sketchy email supposedly from an Apple employee, then an assortment of "sources" saying something big is brewing in Cupertino, and now a report by the Financial Times that relies on more anonymous sources describing a new initiative inside the company.
From the FT:
Dozens of Apple employees, led by experienced managers from its iPhone unit, are researching automotive products at a confidential Silicon Valley location outside the company's Cupertino campus, the people said.
Jonathan Ive, Apple's rockstar designer, has reportedly been leading meetings with a variety of automotive executives in the past few months, in some cases trying to get them to jump ship to Apple. That's happened in the past, with the company snagging the CEO of Mercedes-Benz Silicon Valley Research & Development lab Johann Jungwirth last year.
Recent spy shots of a van registered to Apple with a LIDAR and cameras was the first indication that Apple was working on something in the auto space, but the smart money continues to be something related to mapping.
The FT report follows an email Business Insider received from someone claiming to be an Apple employee saying that the company is working on something that will "give Tesla a run for its money." That was followed by sources speaking with the Mac Observer, one of which stated that they're "80 percent" sure that Apple is working on a car.
"Three months ago I would have said it was CarPlay," said one source speaking with the FT. "Today I think it's a car."
It's obvious that Apple is working on something related to transportation. Software for self-driving cars, an auto-centric operation system, or possibly a partnership with an existing automaker are all in the cards. But the leap from making phones, tablets, and PCs to a fully-baked car seems a bit too far. Giving Tesla "a run for it's money" could be a blown-out version of iOS dedicated to vehicles with the touchscreen hardware to match, or it could be something entirely new. Apple has more cash than it knows to do with, so anything's possible, but with all Apple rumors, you need a salt mine to take much of it seriously.