Apple Killing Off the Apple Car Is Fantastic News for CarPlay

The never-launched Apple Car is dead 10 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
CarPlay 2.0 in PorscheCarPlay 2.0 in Aston MartinCarPlay wallpaperAndroid Auto wallpapersCarPlay wallpaperNew wallpaper enabled with CanvasNew wallpaper enabled with CanvasNew wallpaper enabled with CanvasCarPlay 2.0 in Porsche
Apple has unofficially abandoned the Apple Car, giving up on the project that was supposed to pave the way for the company's ambitious strategy of conquering the automotive world.
Seen by many as the vehicle spearheading the transition to cars for the entire tech industry, the Apple Car won't see the daylight this decade. Apple has scrapped plans for an EV, though I wouldn't be surprised to see the company resume the work on a car in a few years.

Many people believe that Apple killing off the Apple Car is living proof that the company has admitted defeat in the unexplored automotive space. The tech giant has hit several roadblocks, from finding a traditional carmaker to be in charge of production to the development process, which has progressed slowly in the last four years.

However, it doesn't mean Apple is giving up on the automotive space. It's just dropping plans for an electric car, with the rest of its automotive ambitions remaining unaltered.

It's why the Apple Car demise is excellent news for CarPlay.

The Apple Car failure.

CarPlay 2\.0 in Porsche
Photo: Porsche
First, it's crucial to understand how Apple tries to regroup after giving up on the car development.

While it's unclear if the company will dissolve the entire Special Projects Group, most of its 2,000 employees will migrate to the artificial intelligence division. Others will leave the company, especially if their primary focus has been exclusively on the automotive focus of Project Titan (with Apple no longer working on a car, their role is now considered redundant within the company).

The work on the Apple Car started approximately a decade ago, with Apple scaling down its ambitions repeatedly. The company downgraded the Apple Car from a living room on wheels to a conventional EV with standard Level 2 self-driving capabilities.

Eventually, Apple's big honchos acknowledged that an Apple Car without innovative capabilities wouldn't make sense, so they decided to drop the project.

CarPlay now spearheading the automotive push.

CarPlay 2\.0 in Aston Martin
Photo: Aston Martin
Apple killing off Project Titan doesn't mean Apple drops its automotive strategy. Its expansion in the car world will now be spearheaded by other products, including CarPlay and Apple Maps.

The en-masse migration to the AI group proves that Apple also makes artificial intelligence integral to its long-term strategy. This change of focus targets not only the iPhone but also the experience behind the wheel, with Siri getting new capabilities in the car. We've known for a while that Apple was working on a more intelligent Siri, but this updated strategy confirms the company's long-term plan.

With a new-generation CarPlay already on the radar, it's clear that Apple's automotive strategy will revolve around other key products. CarPlay and Apple Maps will receive more love as Apple seems to embrace a strategy similar to Google's.

Following in Google's footsteps.

CarPlay wallpaper
Photo: Packix
Apple wasn't the only tech company planning a foray into the automotive world. Long-time rivals Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Xiaomi also explored and adopted similar plans, though their strategies involved different approaches. Xiaomi was the only tech company to launch a car.

Now that the Apple Car is no more, Apple's automotive strategy is similar to Google's. The company focuses on software and services – Google has Android Auto, Android Automotive, GAS, Google Maps, and other products, while Apple will bet all-in on CarPlay and Apple Maps to remain relevant behind the wheel.

It's why CarPlay is the main product to benefit from the Apple Car's demise. Apple has no option but to direct all automotive efforts to CarPlay, now the platform where all its other offerings can run. CarPlay is Android Automotive's rival, competing for the infotainment system and providing one-tap access to other services and providing the parent company with access to incredibly valuable vehicle data.

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Photo: Packix
Apple Maps will also benefit from the Apple Car demise, especially as the platform is significantly behind rival Google Maps regarding functionality. While the detailed city experience propelled Apple Maps above many rivals, its limited availability pushes many users to Google Maps.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple launching Apple Maps on Android, especially as it now needs market share to remain relevant in the automotive business. Apple Maps is limited to the iPhone and other Apple devices, but without users, certain features, including the Waze-inspired incident reporting, can hardly gain traction.

Without an Apple Car to bring all these products under the same roof, Apple might start looking elsewhere for market share, and opening up its walled garden could be the only way to do it. Apple should also accelerate the work on the detailed city experience, bringing its in-house maps, upgraded navigation, Look Around, and 3D interface to more users worldwide.

Meanwhile, remember that Apple hasn't completely abandoned its plans for cars. It just dropped its current plans, so don't be surprised if the company brings the project back to life when Tim Cook (or his successor at the helm of the company) sees it as a way to expand in the automotive business.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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