Mercedes-Benz chairman: iPhone guys are not going to just walk in

“It happens each time there is talk that Apple is preparing to enter a new product category: industry leaders issue the standard statement that they’re unfazed by potential Apple competition because 1) Apple makes computers and 2) this is their turf, their expertise,” Zac Hall reports for 9to5Mac.

Hall reports, “Almost like fulfilling the prophecy, head of Mercedes-Benz cars Dieter Zetsche recently did just that while discussing the rumor with Australian publication motoring.com.au: ‘If there were a rumour that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then they (Apple) would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Palm-esque.

We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.Ed Colligan, Palm CEO, November 16, 2006

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

58 Comments

    1. What they fail to understand is in Captain Kirk Starfleet test fashion Apple changes the rules of the game.

      Apple’s Kobayashi Maru game-changing reprogramming strategy in action. Photon torpedo’s away on the competition!

    2. Dieter Zetsche said to that reporter, “If Apple thinks simply putting five wheels on an iPhone is going to turn it into an automobile, then they’ve got another think coming. If they can do that in five years, I’ll swallow your iPhone in one gulp. Our motto at Mercedes-Benz is, If you can think of it, we’ve already done it… twice.”

      1. That’s the sort of arrogance that gets one into trouble. The Germans do engineering well but they do anything but think different a out what they produce they prefer to perfect the same old ideas and are ripe for the taking be it Apple or some one else.

        1. Stagnation in any area of technology or in devices that helps humanity is just asking for it. I think it largely becomes another DNA problem and not having a clue where to begin in this old guard and connecting all the pieces of the puzzle.

          There are advantages and disadvantages to using older CEO’s who are inherently resistant to change and risk on their watch. These days mostly disadvantages it seems. Playing it safe may not be wise ultimately as others will do the job if you won’t.

      2. Hope that will be an iPhone 6+ he will be swallowing.

        But as we know Karl Benz’s 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen is widely regarded as the first gasoline powered automobile.

        MB’s motto is Das Beste oder nichts (the best or nothing), which kind of reminds one of Apple 😉

  1. M-B is getting into smartphones by developing their own in-car communications and computing. And yes, the world has seen how shiteous those attempts end up.

    The question they should be asking themselves is this: if Apple could create a phone from scratch that is excellent and revolutionary, is it possible they could create a phone from scratch that is the same?

    The answer is yes.

      1. Respectfully – You do know that Tesla will not turn a profit until 2020. At least that’s what they say. Also around 2020 the warrantees for their cars start to expire. The the specter of buying replacement batteries, at $20,000 to $30,000, will rear its ugly head and all that talk of fantastic gas mileage will appear to be in vain.

        Some may not see it this way but in order for them to “get it right” or “succeed” as a business, they need to be profitable. In any event they are very un like in that regard.

        1. And, Tesla also got where it was today by obtaining tons and tons of grants and freebies from the taxpayers. So Tesla is not selling a product that people in any significant numbers, want. However, they are good at convincing the government to redistribute funds to themselves — crony capitalism at work.

        2. AS if rich people will care about $20k – they will have a new Tesla, not a 6-7 year-old one.
          GM, Ford et all almost disappeared only 5 years ago when bankruptcy and bad design screwed them up.
          Anyone can design a simple car – in fact cars are stupidly simple – look at all the back yard mechanics who fix cars and resell them.
          The only reason that cars aren’t better is because its all held together by the almost criminal dealership system. Apple can destroy that easily…

          1. I don’t know if that necessarily I am rich or not but I do own a Rolls and a Bentley and yes I do care about $20,000. I would wager that most people that are rich got that way because they care as well.

  2. Mercedes Benz is arguably the best car brand in the world, but they should try to be less full of themselves. They’re making the same dumb ass mistake made by Palm, Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft, and others. Look at these company’s products now.

    1. Dieter Zetsche was CEO of Chrysler, in the USA, from 2000 to 2005. I think his bright idea was to bring back the glamor of the American muscle car. I believe it turned out to be a pretty bone-headed move, and he was ignominiously recalled to Germany. I am surprised he did not get the boot. I, personally, would not take what this guy thinks very seriously.

      People would be better off reading Machiavelli’s, The Prince, or The Art of War by Sun Tzu to get into the spirit with which one should consider Apple’s foray into any new field.

    2. “Mercedes Benz is arguably the best car brand in the world…”
      Was…

      None of the post 2000 models (actually post 1993 models) are even remotely close in quality and longevity as the early MBS that earned the reputation.

      Mercedes lost it’s pride and quality build since and that’s where Apple will shine and reintroduce value.

  3. It’s that degree of complacency which will could the undoing of some companies.

    I hope for the sake of Mercedes Benz that they’re privately taking the threat from Apple more seriously and this is just a performance for public consumption.

    1. It is very difficult to change a century old corporation because all the processes and procedures are now “by the book.”

      Who will challenge “Our way or the highway.”

      1. You know little about Mercedes if you think they have lapsed into doing everything “by the book”. The car industry is extremely cut throat, but Mercedes is one of the most successful and innovative manufacturers, largely because of its technology. This is not a comment on Apple’s ability to be successful in cars – but your depiction of Mercedes as being hide-bound is way off the mark.

        1. Disagree Mercedes are extremely good at producing better versions of boring or rehashes of thier previous high points from yesteryear there are few forks in their toad ahead, very little imagination in their vision but then their market also predominately staid and unimaginative wants that so nothing wrong with giving it to them. It’s just they are ill prepared to compete with a new vision that catches the imagination if someone can find the key. Tesla is the first car company to be able to make a non internal combustion engined car seriously sexy and as such it’s can do attitude is exactly what is needed to show a different way ahead and one where the lazy assumption that you don’t go wrong by buying a Merc is challenged just as the similar assumption about IBM was.

  4. I would loose sleep if a company that could buy and sell you with their spare change yet still operates like a start-up, decides they want to compete with you.

  5. If there be two types of car owners:

    1. My car is my glorious life (or a big part of it).
    2. My car is a means to an end.

    Apple is definitely going for the high end.

    But what if Apple is also going for the middle or lower end.

    Business owners know: their cost of production and their consumer demand. Apple can change both sections for any level of consumer, if they so choose.

  6. Mr. Benz CEO if you are right that people can’t just walk into a field they know nothing about think about this:

    the future generation of cars will be full of computerized technology driven by an OS.

    Apple has been building OS’ for decades.
    What are car companies like yours going to do, develop a world class OS in a few years?

    1. Cars have long been controlled by computers and the auto manufacturers already write software for their own systems.

      I’m sure as CEO he is fully aware of the role computers play in his product.

      1. the embedded computer systems in cars today in comparison to what i think apple is capable of is like ‘computing’ in old flip phones compared to a modern smartphone.

        Car companies today are just trying to build a ‘better flip phone’.

        1. I think Apple could bring a lot to the table on the usability of various systems and how the driver / passengers interface with those systems.

          The purely embedded side of the business, such as ECM, braking etc. is already highly reliable. I’d hope Apple would steer clear from that end of the business – a lot of liability goes along with it.

          1. I can agree with what you are saying.

            QNX (the famous car OS) which is horrible OS for smartphones ,as RIM which bought it found out, is supposedly great for embedded systems as the kernel is very ‘crash proof.

      2. Really, have you ever used the Command interface on a MB? Dumber than dirt! If this is the best software they can write, it will be a cakewalk for Apple. MB has just started to get it after having years of quality issues. Audi and BMW are quietly eating MB’s lunch. Check six, Dieter!

  7. This is not the same situation as eight or however many years ago. There is virtually no comparison between the phone industry and the auto industry. Manufacturing automobiles is nothing like manufacturing phones or other handheld computer devices, and the government’s tentacles dig far deeper into the auto industry than the electronics industry. You people are sounding like idiots with all of this “just like Palm” bravado about something based on some wild, sloppy rumors.

    1. I’ll bet you said the same thing when the Wright Brothers were planning on building a flying machine. You figured they were crazy if they were going to put wings on a bicycle and fly that thing. You do realize the Wright Brothers were bicycle builders and that field had nothing to do with heavier than air flight? They weren’t aeronautical engineers. My point is when it comes to human ingenuity and determination, never say never. If everyone thought the way you did, there would never be any breakthroughs.

      I don’t necessarily believe Apple is building a car and probably all of this is speculation but one never knows what’s going on in some top secret laboratory at Apple. They may have their own Skunkworks hangar tucked away somewhere from prying eyes.

      1. Yes, I said that same thing about the Wright Brothers 65 years before I was born. And you completely missed my point. And the Wright Brothers made a successful first flight. They did not create the aircraft or airline industry. This is not even a useful comparison.

  8. Comparing past CEO statements from CEOs of complacent electronics manufacturing companies to the CEO statements from the auto industry is ridiculous. Other than the infotainment systems of autos, the technologies and design expertise are hugely different. This whole discussion about Apple becoming a car maker is nonsensical. There’s no doubt Apple is likely working on the infotainment system and integrating that with car control systems, as that’s a huge industry where their expertise is directly applicable. Designing electronics hardware, and software is right up their alley. It’s a big business, and the car makers struggle developing good systems in house.

    1. Agreed. People really think that at the same time Apple is struggling to gain access for CarPlay that they would all of the sudden try and compete instead. Makes no sense. The size and scale of the auto market that Apple to capture by itself is so small compared to the market of being INSIDE everyone’s car.

    2. True – not to mention they’d be giving it up to google.

      Why on earth would the likes of MB, VW, GM, Ford, PSA, Renault etc let apple anywhere near the entertainment system if they thought apple was going to compete.

      Plus where are they going to build the thing – China?

      1. Exactly. Where WOULD they build them? You don’t just outsource automotive manufacturing; it’s a very different model than electronics.

        I hope that Apple is doing something in the industry, but these leaps to conclusions that Apple is going to become an auto manufacturer is absurd at this point.

  9. The advantage Apple has over the entrenched car companies is that they can start from scratch. They have the opportunity to build a completely new way unrestrained from existing paradigms and business relationships.

    Doing it the same way as always is a liability for any company and the auto industry is a perfect example of this.

    They should be terrified. If Apple doesn’t eat their lunch Tesla certainly will.

    1. All the major auto manufacturers have hybrids and\or electrics in production, close to production or far along in the design phase.

      You expect these guys to get terrified over a rumor that a company who has never made a car might be designing one?

      Its laughable that anyone is expecting a CEO in a cut throat business like autos to show a shred of fear over a bunch of dumb fuck wall street analysts dreading rumors.

  10. I don’t see it – love my iPhone but apple cant even get Siri right.

    I can image it now…
    “Turn left”
    “i’m sorry i didn’t quite get that”

    “take me to james street”
    “calling jayne”

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