The rumor of a possible partnership between iPhone maker Apple Inc. and BMW has resurfaced once again. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, and other senior executives met last year with executives from the German automaker for a tour of the i3 electric car factory. During that visit, according to Auto World News, the folks from Apple were impressed with BMW’s approach to manufacturing the i3, how it was not the traditional route taken in auto manufacturing, the same way the iPhone maker approaches manufacturing.
Word came out from the visit that Apple Inc. was interested in licensing parts from BMW, which pointed to a potential iCar from the Cupertino, California based company. The Daily Times Gazette reported that while Bimmer is not currently in discussions with the iPhone maker to collaborate on a vehicle, and Apple is keeping their lips sealed, some are wondering if there is in fact something in the works. It has happened before.
In 1979, Apple’s Steve Jobs visited Xerox’s Research Center in Palo Alto. In what would be labeled the Silicon Valley Prometheus minute, Jobs learned about Xerox’s first mouse-driven interface and exited with thoughts in his head that five years later became the Macintosh. Industry experts are questioning if Cook’s visit will be another Prometheus moment for Apple and result in an iCar.
Since the visit by Apple Inc, executives last year, the German company has seen a reshuffling of the top executives. The leading BMW executive who met with Apple, Herbert Diess, defected to rival Volkswagen in December 2014, which may have ended the potential collaboration between the two companies.
All that Apple is really missing is everything but the dashboard. Building a car is beyond their scope, but with CarPlay and digital dashboards and all the computer aspects of an electric car, the iPhone maker has a handle on, but when it comes to economical design and construction of a car, they would need some assistance. Another factor that Apple has in their favor is that if they built an iCar, it would likely be in high demand, according to Financial Express. For one reason, being electric and the raise in desire for green automobiles, but also because it was a product from Apple.
While neither company is saying they are collaborating, the potential is there and if Apple Inc. cannot find a partner to help them build a car, they may use the $202.8 billion they have to enter the automobile market on their own, however, they would have to search out people from other automakers to fill the knowledge gaps they need to fill. With Apple not commenting and BMW denying a partnership, there is that possibility that an Apple iCar powered by the German company may be in the works, or not. Only time will tell.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy BMW