Apple Cars? Maybe It Is All About the Batteries.
The weird Apple rumor of the week is that Apple is getting into the car business. First, some articles pointed to some minivans with cameras that were registered to Apple and postulated that Apple was taking pictures to enhance Apple Maps. Others thought that this was perhaps a self-driving car, like what Google has been developing. Then sources started to report odd tensions between Apple and electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors and came up with the idea that Apple was developing an electric car.
Now let’s not forget that there are still far more reasonable rumors out there, like an Apple television, that haven’t even come around yet. Chances are that an Apple car exists only in the imaginations of Apple bloggers looking for something to write about. It is far more likely that the vehicles in question are being used to test CarPlay, the iPhone Maps app or other things that need to be tested in real cars in the real world.
But lets have some fun and assume that Apple is really developing a car. Where does that take us?
The first thing that comes to mind is: why? Why is Apple, a computer company, developing an automobile? That seems completely outside of their wheelhouse. The dashboard touchscreen for a car? Sure. More ways to connect the iPhone to cars? Sure. But a whole car?
Consider that Apple invests a ton of money, people and time into research and development. Deep down in Apple’s labs there are probably thousands of inventions and gadgets that Apple is working on, most that will never see the light of day. But they are all worth it for the bits and pieces (and patents) that do pay off.
Without a doubt, one of the areas of research must have to do with batteries. Apple uses batteries in most of its products. They need them to be smaller, hold more power, charge faster and improve in ways that people aren’t even thinking about. Better batteries means better products for Apple all around. Plus, if they can develop and patent a better battery, all of their products could jump very far ahead of the competition.
I’m not talking about a small improvement. I’m not talking about an evolution. I’m talking about a true revolution in battery technology. Physics tells us that this is possible because of the enormous amount of energy that can theoretically be stored in a single atom.
So lets assume that the battery R&D group at Apple comes up with a revolutionary battery. It is a fraction of the size of today’s best, charges instantly, and costs almost nothing.
They could turn around and put that into the next iPhone and leave Samsung in the dust. But the battery wouldn’t just be used in phones and computers, it would be used anywhere mobile power is needed. And the biggest need for a battery like that would be in cars. I mean, phones are already small and portable. They would just be more so. But electric cars would suddenly be so much more sensible than gasoline-powered vehicles that the industry would change overnight.
Now Apple doesn’t develop technology and license it out. If they have a battery like this, they wouldn’t think: Hey, we can sell this to Tesla and other car makers. That’s not what Apple does. Being the richest company in the world, they can easily start their own car manufacturing branch and come out with their own car. And with the patent on a battery like this, they would be the only ones who could sell anything like it.
After all, it isn’t like the current crop of car manufacturers make vehicles that work flawlessly and last forever, right? And it isn’t like there is any secret to how they make and sell cars. Why license patents for money when Apple can take over yet another industry?