Why Apple’s $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing is so weird

“When Apple announced recently that it had invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing, it was seen as a competitive blow to Uber, which is investing heavily in China,” Daniel Roberts reports for Yahoo Finance. “It was also a big score for Didi, which was formerly called Didi Kuaidi and was the result of a $6 billion mega-merger last year of Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache. Didi is bigger in China than Uber is there.”

“But Apple’s investment was also notable for a reason having nothing to do with Didi or Uber: It represented extremely unusual business behavior by Apple,” Roberts reports. “‘Does Apple do this frequently? No, they do not,’ says Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights, which tracks venture capital funding and tech unicorns. That’s an understatement—Apple almost never does this. Apple disclosed just four full acquisitions of private companies so far this year, and no investments other than Didi. Last year, it made 11 acquisitions, and zero minority investments.”

“Apple is clearly up to something in cars,” Roberts reports. “Of course, Apple doesn’t have to end up making a car to get into the car business. It could choose to offer its own ride-sharing service. It’s also possible that Apple simply sees a bright financial future for one fast-growing taxi app in China.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s how we saw it from the first minute:

“Don’t be surprised when this $1 billion donation, er… investment in this convenient cover story, er… Chinese ride hailing company results in sales of Apple’s iTunes movies and iBooks being turned back on in China.” – MacDailyNews, May 12, 2016

SEE ALSO:
Why Apple is really investing $1 billion in Didi, China’s version of Uber – May 13, 2016
Uber CEO responds to Apple’s $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing – May 13, 2016
Things to know about China’s Didi, Apple’s latest $1 billion investment – May 13, 2016
Apple invests $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing – May 12, 2016
Apple’s battle with China offers a stark reminder of geopolitical risks – May 11, 2016
Apple’s Tim Cook to visit China for high-level government meetings later this month – May 6, 2016
Apple CEO Cook ‘pretty confident’ of soon resuming movie and book sales in China – May 3, 2016
The New Yorker: What Apple has to fear from China – April 30, 2016
China’s increasing censorship hits Apple, but Apple might punch back – April 22, 2016
China shutters Apple’s online book and movie services – April 22, 2016

31 Comments

  1. It’s not weird at all. In fact, it’s brilliant!
    First of all, it is an investment not an acquisition. Apple doesn’t need to do any administrating.
    Second, it makes the Chinese government happy, that makes Apple and its stock holders happy.
    Third, Apple can’t take that money home, so they might as well invest it in something over there.

      1. If you are a smart business operator, you want all of your customers to be happy. China is a huge market. It would be stupid for Apple to not want to play in China.

        If you are advocating for Apple to abandon the market in China as a political statement, then please be so bold as to say so.

        Otherwise your position has no merit.

        1. botvinnik is right.
          This “investment” stink to high heaven.

          Cook is a hypocrite, investing in communism – which denies over a billion people their basic human rights – while campaigning for his pet homosexual agenda under the guise of, your guessed it, human rights.

      2. Investing in Didi Chuxing (with money presumingly earned from China) does not divulge information or hurt the Chinese people in any way. (clarification – I said people, not government)
        In fact, it probably helps them.

    1. The problem with the “third” point above is Apple may make a profit on the investment, giving them an even bigger home tax problem. 😉

  2. Or, the self-driving car Apple is developing will only, or primarily, be marketed to replace taxi and Uber-ish drivers, and China is a better commercial and legal environment to introduce it. As in many potential users in ginormous cities. As in not getting sued for a zillion dollars in East Texas for the first fender bender.

    1. The vision for a large pool of autonomous cars that do not rely on fossil fuels is not only about providing a convenient transportation alternative. On a national scale, it’s also about addressing severe urban pollution problems and reaching ambitious national carbon emissions reduction goals.

  3. Basically it’s like when you pay the drug lord for the drugs. He doesn’t touch the money. You pay the stooge. He then does what the drug lord wants done with the money. The drug lord’s hands stay clean. In other words Apple had to pay off the communists. But they couldn’t pay them directly.

  4. It is Apple’s bribe to stay in Red China and continue doing business. Perhaps the “right” to use the iPhone name will be taken away from competitors in China.

    1. Autonomous vehicles are just around the corner, but before they hit the road maps are going to have to be upgraded much faster than Google’s fleet of ‘mapping’ vans can possibly do it. Upgrading maps in real time, what autonomous vehicles will require, will require machine learning/artificial intelligence integration in map technology.

      Enter Apple’s new map development center in India, its investment in Didi and acquisition of VocalIQ.

      The heart of VocalIQ’s artificial intelligence technology is its ability to process complex human like requests and its ability to “learn” with a greatly reduced data set input (down ~98% from current learning modalities). Currently serving about 1% of ride sharing potential in China Didi is generating >11 million location data points, and the routes taken to get from point A to point B, per day. Further Didi has strategic partnerships with other ride sharing firms around the world collecting the same data points.

      VocalIQ approaches artificial intelligence/machine learning in a totally new way from current methods, resulting in faster, far more accurate responses to far more complex inquires. Further, VocalIQ remembers your last inquiry parameters. This means that you can change any one of several query parameters and get new query results, WITHOUT HAVING TO RE-INPUT YOUR ENTIRE QUERY. No other commercial search engine can do this.

      I suspect that Apple Maps is going to get a major make over in 2018, leading to a paradigm shift in internet search and maps technology and usage.

      i believe this is Apple’s car effort/focus and will be the heart of any/all autonomous cars manufactured.

  5. I know you guys think the iPad is the future of computing. I don’t agree. And I would have told you so, via my iPad, except that using an iPad on your site is almost impossible.

    Well, I can read the articles but typing comments on my iPad is nigh impossible. You should try it, with your ipad in landscape mode. The ads continually reset the screen and if you are not very careful, the keyboard disappears and you hit another story and lose everything you have typed.

    The iPad will never replace a Mac unless it becomes a Mac – and then it will no longer be an iPad.

    I switched to Mac in 2002. But my next computer will be a Windows notebook so that i can run Tradestation’s client on a portable machine.

    And when my Mac Pro no longer does the job, I will replace it with a Wintel Tower. Then I can move my 4 x 6TB drives and LTO Tape drive inside the box and put it on the floor – and get my fucking desk back.

    I can’t tell you how many people I converted to Mac.

    No more. I have lost the faith. And here are the simple reasons:

    1. Microsoft’s OneDrive works seamlessly across all my apple devices. iCloud doesn’t work on any of them. Not for work anyway, And its expensive for photos, which is all it is good for. Didn’t anyone at Apple ever work on a project where they wanted everything in the same place? Apparently not.

    2. iWork is iPlay. Every time I try to use it for work I run into an obstacle because features have been removed. Try adding a landscape table to an otherwise portrait document, You can’t. Some of the templates don’t even work any more – no-one at Apple appears to have noticed. That suggests they are all using Office.

    3. My 1yr old 12″ Macbook is gorgeous to look at but it has the worst keyboard I have encountered in my 30+ years in IT. Use it in a plane and people will give you dirty looks because it is INCREDIBLY NOISY, but also some of the keys don’t work reliably so it is hopeless for touch typing. You have to hit the keys quite hard – but even if you try not to it still makes a racket.

    4. The macbook hates going to sleep. Actually. it goes to sleep fine – but it rarely wakes up properly. Just now I opened it and had a spinning beachball for 10 minutes until I powered it off and started again. I can NEVER get mail to work properly when the macbook has gone to sleep.

    5. I am not a heavy phone user. I like my iphone (6), when it works, but i don’t make or receive many calls. I use Apple maps, which is kind of ok for streets, but absolutely useless for businesses where the data, for Sydney, is at least 5 years out of date. I was looking for a local dry cleaner two weeks ago – the address maps gave would have been prior to the construction of a new mall, 5 years ago. Useless…

    6. The iphone does work most of the time but, from time to time Siri loses the plot and can no longer access any iphone app (she cant make calls, find a contact, or see maps). Sometimes a hard reset fixes it, but not always.

    MDN often endorses a view that iPads are a sensible replacement for computers. Don’t do this. You are not doing anyone any favours by doing this, least of all yourselves.

    It is, in any case, untrue. The fact that I am writing this on my Macbook after having given up trying to comment on your site from my iPad is just one case in point.

    Go on, sort an ipad mail account by unread mail. Now add a few rules. Now, halfway through an email add a photo.

    You can’t do any of those things on an ipad.

    That’s because it runs a CUT-DOWN version of the Mac operating system.

    The iPad is, by comparison to the Mac, a toy,

    The real worry though is that the Mac, compared to Wintel, is also becoming a toy.

    MDN, if you get this wrong you will lose your raison d’etre.

    For years, my mornings have started with MDN. In the last six months I have noticed that I now start with The Guardian, then the SMH, then Huffpost. Only then do I open MDN. And sometimes I read the WSJ before MDN – and sometimes I don’t read MDN at all.

    iPhone users do not evangelise Apple. Mac users do. Or did…

    When we all move back to Windows no-one will read your site.

    So stop repeating the fiction that iPad is the way of the future. You are just giving Apple the excuse to drop the Mac. When than happens it will signal the end of Apple.

    And where will you be then?

    1. “… The iPad will never replace a Mac unless it becomes a Mac – and then it will no longer be an iPad….”

      Sure it will.

      Very smart people once said the desktop will never replace the mainframe. Well it did. Rather quickly. And it’s still a desktop. And there are still mainframes out there but very few.

      It will happen with tablets and conventional computers as well. Consider the basis for Apple’s current products, i.e. the right product for the right job.

      Already, for the vast majority of users, iPads can handle their needs. On this “toy” as you call it I can:

      – Provide remote tech support to clients
      – Monitor servers and networks
      – And a host of other IT related tasks
      – email
      – chat
      – banking, other services, etc.
      – Word Processing
      – Spreadsheets
      – Presentations
      – Pretty much anything web based, that doesn’t require FLASH.
      – Social Media
      – Watch Movies
      – Watch Television
      – Read books and magazines and periodicals
      – Manage a document management system for a corporation
      – Take photos
      – edit photos
      – edit movies
      – Make phone calls
      – Make video calls

      I can go on and on and on.

      The iPad and iPad like computers including the iPhone are the future of computing for the masses. Most people won’t need a laptop, let alone a massive desktop.

      It’s no big deal really. It doesn’t mean the Mac is going away soon, but it does mean that fewer and fewer people will need a Mac or other conventional computer as time passes.

      I took note recently of a client that didn’t replace their desktop computers for 7 years. They had all white iMacs which still did the basic jobs they needed them to do. They had started to fail though, so they basically decided the time had come, and we replaced them all with shiny new iMacs. We did consider buying all iPads though. A couple of the employees went the iPad way and they’re very happy. They understood the nuances of working with the iPad though.

      I told the company that there is a strong possibility those would be the last Macs they purchased. If they wait another 7 years, for instance, by that time pretty much any issue with using the iPad as your standard computer will be gone.

      The iPad can’t do what you need… until it can.

      1. How about one level of “undo” throughout productivity apps (let alone infinite levels) before we start declaring functional replacement, at least for those who edit….

        I edit freely on my Mac (and old PC), because I know I can get back to any point with Command-Z. That, combined with a clipboard of thousands of searchable and categorized items generally allows me be able to go both forward and back to nearly any point in the drafting process I want.

    2. Sorry you lost me on #3. Are you seriously saying that with all the noise that is in an airplane that people next to you can hear you type? That’s a good one

    3. “I switched to Mac in 2002. But my next computer will be a Windows notebook so that i can run Tradestation’s client on a portable machine.

      And when my Mac Pro no longer does the job, I will replace it with a Wintel Tower. Then I can move my 4 x 6TB drives and LTO Tape drive inside the box and put it on the floor – and get my fucking desk back.”

      Why are you angry at Macs and Apple? You sound like a guy that requires a tandem tractor trailer truck and tried to get by with a dually pickup truck.

      There problem isn’t your MAC,its a failure on your part to get the right tool for the job you wanted done.

      1. So a Billion goes to communists while almost every Apple app/product/service falls further and further behind the competition.
        Welcome to Cook’s Apple.

        WWDC is coming.
        I can guarantee it will offer nothing newsworthy unless you consider a woman on the stage at an Apple conference is newsworthy.

        1. So do you have inside information that a woman will be onstage at WWDC? That’s exciting, but not newsworthy because they’ve done it before. Unless it’s a Chinese dissident woman. That would be a poke in the eye to the Chinese authorities and could further erode Apple’s retail presence in China. But it would be consistent with Apple’s professed interest in furthering diversity and human rights at the expense of their balance sheet. My guess it will be neither, just the same guys trying to shine us on.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.