Word briefly got out yesterday that Apple had filed a patent on an all-electric car, but sadly before we could get all a twitter (or even all on Twitter), it turned out that the company in question wasn’t the Apple and that the car was just a golf cart.
I'm not an Apple fan and yet it still made me sad. With software becoming an increasing part of any car, I thought the idea of Apple entering the car market seemed like a good idea. So it got me to thinking: What would a real Apple Car look like if it existed?
First, I would assume the iCar (could it be called anything else?) would be all black at first. Then in a few years it would come out in black or white. And then when sales went down, they'd start selling it in rainbow colors. Of course, no Apple product launch would be complete without U2 being involved. So I'd assume there'd be a special U2 edition of the car. In fact, I have an idea for a prototype U2 edition right here:
The final version of the U2 edition would obviously be rounder and would have a button on the dash that allowed you to delete the car.
No doubt, it would feature a sleek, aluminum body with a special glass windshield that is reported to be the clearest window a person can see out of. Tests would show it to be entirely safe, but there would be unsubstantiated reports of it bending more than other cars during accidents.
But what about the inside of the car? That's where the action really is.
For one thing, it would only have three seats. Why three? If Steve Jobs were still with us, I'm sure he would explain it this way: "Today's family averages four people, but they are seldom together. While we shuttle back and forth between work and soccer most seats go unused. I would rather gamble on our vision than make a 'me, too' product."
The space where the unused seat would be will be replaced by forward and rear facing cameras. As other electric cars compete with four or maybe even six seats the iCar will have mini and maxi versions.
One of the great contributions Apple made to the world is a clean and usable touch screen interface. Apple will continue that in the iCar by replacing the steering wheel with touch controls including icons for "turn left," "turn right," and "iTunes." Of course, there will be an option to connect to Siri so when someone cuts you off in traffic she can say, "I didn't get that. Did you mean Mother Tucker? Rerouting to Mother Tucker's restaurant in Toronto, Canada."
And no doubt the iCar will have a self-driving mode just like the Google car, however, the iCar will not allow you to customize the speed or route that it takes believing that "it just gets you there" is the only thing that matters.
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The biggest complaint around the iCar will be the battery life. While driving in normal mode it will be just fine. But when taking advantage of the extremely bright and vivid headlights, the new "Facetime" head's up display, and the inability for its navigation to find what you are looking for the first time, cars will often need to be charged mid-trip.
Despite the complaints, I believe an iCar would be wildly successful. But I'm sure it would quickly see quite a lot of competition, not just from existing cars like the Tesla, Volt and Google's driverless car, but from Apple's ordinary competitors.
With Microsoft already entering the car market via entertainment systems, expect them to enter the market with the XCar One which will be unnecessarily slow and complicated to drive, but sell well among corporate customers and the Samsung Roadmaster, a car so big it is routinely mistaken for an 18-wheeler. Its biggest competition would no doubt come from Amazon who would sell cars at deep discounts and try to make it up in Prime subscriptions. In the end, it should be a really interesting competition if only it isn't ruined by all the patent battles.
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