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This is interesting. Tucked away in Nick Bilton’s New York Times article about Apple potentially building an iWatch is a revelation that Steve Jobs actually wanted to build an Apple car.
According to Bilton:
In a meeting in his office before he died, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and former chief executive, told John Markoff of The New York Times that if he had more energy, he would have liked to take on Detroit with an Apple car.
The language used in that quote suggests that Jobs might have only come up with the idea near his death, when Google’s self-driving cars had already racked up hundreds of thousands of kilometers in testing. That many not however be the case.
As Bilton notes, when Apple’s Phil Schiller took to the stand during the company’s epic patent trial against Samsung, he revealed that the Cupertino-based tech giant had looked at making “crazy stuff”, including a camera or a car, before the development of the iPhone and the iPad.
It’s unclear whether or not Apple’s car would’ve been autonomous. The fact that Jobs wanted to take on the Detroit manufacturers, it might not have been. Given the way things are going right now however, it’s difficult to believe that it wouldn’t at least have seen the opportunities present in autonomous vehicles.
If Apple had forged ahead and built a self-driving car, the space could have been much more interesting by now. The people other than Google trying to get autonomous cars on the road right now are pretty much all vehicle manufacturers. While the engineers working on these projects are undoubtedly brilliant, one can’t help but wonder where we’d be right now if one of the fiercest rivalries in tech went on the road.