After Apple released the iPod there were rumors the company was working on a phone. (They were working on a tablet, but it became a phone). After the iPhone, there were rumors they were working on a tablet. After the iPad, rumors they were working on TV or a watch. Now that the Apple Watch is on deck, rumors have shifted to an Apple Car. For Apple and for those fascinated by Apple, the reason is the same — humans want to cross seas and climb mountains. The minute we have something we immediately want to know what's next.
I've mentioned before that Apple is filled with incredibly smart people and, as a company, they make exceedingly logical decisions. In other words, if a writer on a website can theorize that it would make sense for Apple to think about TVs or cars or cameras or whatever, chances are several of those incredibly smart people have already thought about, and perhaps even investigated the potential, of doing just that. To do anything else would be negligent.
Not everything Apple thinks about leads to investigation, not every investigation goes into prototype, and not every prototype goes into production. It takes a lot of work to generate those "thousand nos for every yes".
When it comes to cars, Apple has been thinking about them for years. From The New York Times:
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.
Steve Jobs passed away in 2011. In 2013 Apple announced CarPlay, part of their systematic decoupling of interface and device, and a way to give iPhone owners a better experience beyond the confines of a single product. Apple is still actively working with the auto industry on developing CarPlay, and given the other technologies they're releasing, it's not hard to imagine how far future versions could go.
Some of the recent rumors sound, in part, like they're conflating ongoing work on CarPlay with work on an actual car, but consider this — if you ran Apple, would you be at least thinking about making your own car hardware? Would you think it worth investigating?
The Wall Street Journal:
Apple has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. They said the project, code-named "Titan," has an initial design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of these people said.
Just like with the phone and tablet and watch, there'll no doubt be a ton of conflated and conflicted rumors about an Apple Car — Car? — for months and years to come. The only thing for certain is, just like there was a phone and tablet and now a watch, unless Tim Cook and company decide to drop the mic and "Apple out!", there will be something next.
There will be products they believe they can bring to market to solve real problems and provide great experiences and, of course, increase the value of Apple's other products and ultimately, Apple itself.
Maybe that something next will be an Apple Car, or maybe it'll be another service like Apple Pay, or a hybrid, or something that's yet to be so much as rumored.
The only questions right are — will a car make it onto that incredibly short, incredibly focused product list, and when?