Bloomberg reported that Apple will now focus on building a self-driving system that can be sold to vehicle makers. Apple has been able to keep the team numbers around 1,000 people by hiring employees to help with the new focus. It would save the traditional auto makers millions in development costs if an advanced system could be licensed and used in production vehicles.
Speculations of the shift to software first started swirling in July, when Apple hired the former head of Blackberry's automotive software division. Tech investors are dubious too. The hiring of a former head of BlackBerry Ltd's (NASDAQ:BBRY) QNX auto software division marked a potential shift in focus from an electric vehicle to a self-driving vehicle. "They probably weren't willing to compromise on quality issues".
The company set up Titan in 2014 in an attempt to match its success in the mobile industry with the iPhone.
By the end of 2015, the project was blighted by internal strife.
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The Apple Car might not ever come to fruition. Some have been reassigned to other teams within the company, while others have been let go or have chosen to depart, per Bloomberg. It's an effort that requires billions of dollars and large teams staffed with people devoted to the craft of vehicle making. The New York Times reported in September that Apple had cut dozens of employees from Titan. Bloomberg says Apple executives have put Titan on a deadline. Bloomberg says he's one of the main reasons why Apple is shifting its strategy when it comes to cars.
I've made this point many times when writing about Apple Car, but it bears repeating: Bob Mansfield is a bad-ass.
While Apple's decision to abandon its self-driving auto plans is kind of a bummer for gearheads with an eye for simple design, it's totally understandable. In smartphones, Apple wields extensive influence and often secures exclusive rights to certain parts from suppliers.