Opinion: For Apple Car, does Apple need McLaren or a global network most?


We’ve all seen the rumors Apple has been in talks with McLaren (denied) and Lit Motors (not denied), but are these the right acquisition targets for connected vehicles?

After all, while there has been lots of speculation on what this could be about, but it seems pretty clear to me that IF Apple is talking to either of these firms it’s going to be interested in technology, process, production and materials design, and (in the case of McLaren) acquiring the kind of auto industry cachet you need to launch a high end vehicle. And yes, those things are pretty important…

But, as I’ve said before, when it comes to intelligent connected systems, the secret sauce isn’t just in mechanics, but in software — more specifically — connected software. You can’t, after all, have a road full of connected autonomous vehicles and expect their collision detection systems to function well if the network is overloaded or goes down.

That’s why i think Apple needs to invest in network expertise to underpin its IoT adventures. OK, sure, I know it already has tonnes of such experience within the company, but at some point it’s going to need to be able to sell connected devices that ship with the kind of QoS guarantees you only get when you invest in high end network services.

Now, if you’ve taken a little time to scratch the surface of what’s happening in connected vehicle development you’ll see that inclusion of SIM connectivity, offloading, Wi-Fi and deep neural intelligence are all part of the picture. You’ll find that compatibility across platforms, devices and networks is key. You’ll quickly discover that a smart car isn’t that smart at all if it can’t get online.

Carriers know this. Orange is particularly active in the space, putting its network muscle behind innovative crash detection device, splitsecnd (below) and (also recently) the utterly interesting WayRay AR navigation system. Both of these innovative solutions hint at just two of the connected technologies Apple needs to invest in in order to drive Apple Car success.

All the same I do ask if Apple can introduce solutions equivalent or better than these effectively without network expertise? To underpin a future of autonomous connected vehicles the company is going to need to invest not just in the servers that drive iCloud, but is going to have to reach QoS and service provision deals with the mobile networks the IoT future depends on. Which begs the question, which is a better deal? An automaker like McLaren, or a network provider such as (to pull a name out of nowhere) Orange?

As technology becomes pervasive in everything, the importance of the network will only increase. I think this means Apple will have to innovate around network provision.



Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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