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Ex-GM CEO fails to learn from history, warns Apple against making a car

As Apple Car rumors continue to make their way around the internet, former GM CEO Dan Akerson has taken it upon himself to warn Apple to stay away from automotive manufacturing and, instead, continue to focus on software infotainment efforts, namely, CarPlay. According to Bloomberg:

"I think somebody is kind of trying to cough up a hairball here," Akerson said in a telephone interview. "If I were an Apple shareholder, I wouldn't be very happy. I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing" business.

Apple's car project, reportedly code-named Titan got a lot of attention last week when accounts surfaced of "hundreds of employees" being tasked to work on electric vehicles — supposedly resembling minivans.

Akerson's comments harken back to former Palm CEO Ed Colligan, who infamously commented on Apple's prospects in the phone market:

"PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in."

And we all know how that turned out.

While Apple may or may not enter the car market, and may or may not succeed in it, at this point it seems like a mistake to simply write off anything they attempt.

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

22 Comments
  • The whole idea of an car seems unbelievable to me. I don't believe the rumor for a second. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'll see it when I believe it.
    Or something like that.
  • The takes, they are so hot.
  • But to give is to receive.
  • I think IBM might have told Apple not to make computers and Motorola might have told Apple not to make phones. I'm guessing that if Apple is going to do it, they will do it better than GM and as usual, turn a nice profit for their shareholders.
  • Remember when Apple entered the smart phone market, it was also a highly regulated, carrier controlled, low margin market? When Apple enters a market, not only do they enter with a reinvented product, they reinvent that market itself. People just don't understand Apple, immaterial of the high positions they hold. It comes as no surprise that every tom, dick and harry are talking about apple's imminent failure only to be proved wrong again, again and again. Don't these idiots learn anything?
  • If Apple builds a car it probably will be just a project. They have the cheddar to do that. The GM dude needs to relax. Sent from the iMore App
  • This guy is right. First an over priced watch and now the idea of a car? It takes years to start earning profits on automobiles. Steve Job's blueprints for success must be up and now Cook is just reaching out the sky for ideas. I see why Apple employees are jumping ship and going to Tesla. Apple needs to just stick to the field it is an expert in.
  • Somebody should have said that before they made a phone. Right? Sent from the iMore App
  • It is an easier jump from MP3 players to phones than computers and phones to cars and mechanical devices with lots of moving parts.
  • If that warning had come from anyone outside the car manufacturing business it might have some credibility but all things considered it just screams, "Hey Apple! Stay off our turf!"
  • I still think Michael Dell was right “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders”. Basically cuz Mr. Mike doesn't have the fortitude in making Apple (and products) successful. Whether Apple is successful making a car or not (which I doubt they will ever try), if Apple sees something where they can do better and I was a car maker, I'd be worried.
  • I vote for bringing back two-stroke motorcycles!!
  • "Remember what we did to Tucker!"
  • I am sure if Apple makes a go at anything, they will be successful (Ping, MyCloud, iCloud security, hockeypuck mouse, iWorks, G4 excluded of course)
  • +1
  • I give no credence to Apple Car rumors. I fully believe they are working on details surrounding iOS' Car Play integration.
  • You guys are a bit over confident about Apple jumping into a completely new and different industry.
  • GM JUNK!!!!!, Buy a Toyota or Honda!!!, you will be better off!!!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Incorrect article title. ".... fails to learn from history ...." is not a fact, just a supposition. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • One way to make a small fortune is to go I to the car business with a large fortune. Akerson, you may remember, was at one time the CEO of AT&T. He's not car guy and did a crappy job at GM. Like a broken clock being right twice a day, he is correct. Auto manufacturing is a capital intensive business, has a more complex supply chain than electronics and has product life cycles that last decades not years. This would be all new for Apple as it is for Tesla, who is losing over $100 M per year. Apple would be better served by being in the software/connected vehicle space - the latter of which is way beyond simply adding an LTE radio to the car. That space could use more creativity than currently exists and could have a huge payoff.
  • Exactly! Car manufacturering is very, very capital intensive. And heavily regulated by the gov't too. Not at all like phone regulations. Safety regulations also the machine/robots that produce cars are highly specialized and complex. The infrastructure for cars would take years. Also no one is talking the distribution channel? I am walking in to an Apple Store in the mall and buying a car? Car profits come from high volume and low profits. Also I like apple products, but not buying an apple car! Too much at stake really. And don't think there are enough apples fans that will take that leap either.