Apple’s Bob Mansfield reboots Apple Car project, lays off several dozen employees

“Apple has shuttered parts of its self-driving car project and laid off dozens of employees, according to three people briefed on the move who were not allowed to speak about it publicly,” Daisuke Wakabayashi and Brian X. Chen report for The New York Times.

“In July, the company brought in Bob Mansfield, a highly regarded Apple veteran, to take over the effort,” Wakabayashi and Chen report. “Apple employees were told that the layoffs were part of a ‘reboot’ of the car project, the people briefed on it said… Under Mr. Mansfield, Apple changed the focus of the project, shifting from an emphasis on designing and producing an automobile to building out the underlying technology for an autonomous vehicle.”

“Apple has also made some headway in the space. The company has a number of fully autonomous vehicles in the middle of testing, using limited operating routes in a closed environment, according to people briefed on the company’s plans,” Wakabayashi and Chen report. “Like other companies in the space, that technology is likely a number of years away from seeing mainstream consumer use, they added.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Robert McMillan reports for The Wall Street Journal, “Project Titan’s overall head count remains essentially the same.”

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. — Steve Jobs

SEE ALSO:
South Korea company’s never-before-revealed battery technology expected to be Apple Car’s ‘secret weapon’ – August 9, 2016
Apple Car: Everything we know about Apple’s mysterious ‘Project Titan’ – July 29, 2016
Apple Car: An operating system licensed to other auto-makers? – July 29, 2016
Apple hires founder of QNX with Apple Car project increasing focus on self-driving software – July 28, 2016
Apple taps Bob Mansfield to oversee Apple Car project – July 25, 2016
Apple veteran Steve Zadesky overseeing electric-car project leaving company – January 22, 2016
Apple is building their largest startup ever – October 1, 2015
Why it’s time for an Apple Car – October 1, 2015
The deeper reason for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Volkswagen emissions scandal spotlights need for an Apple Car – September 23, 2015
Morgan Stanley: Apple Car, if true, ‘one of the most important moments in transportation’ – September 22, 2015
Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz: Apple Car ‘is going to be a gigantic money pit’ – September 22, 2015
Apple speeds up electric-car efforts, aims for 2019 ‘ship date’ – September 21, 2015
Apple meets California DMV officials to discuss ‘autonomous vehicle’ – September 18, 2015
Documents confirm Apple is building self-driving car, Project Titan further along than many suspect – August 14, 2015
Apple Car development proceeds apace – July 27, 2015
Apple hires veteran Fiat Chrysler auto industry executive – July 20, 2015
What’s up with Carl Icahn’s sudden obsession with the Apple Car? – May 18, 2015
Survey: 77% of hybrid or electric vehicle owners would likely buy an Apple Car – May 13, 2015
Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world – February 22, 2015
Bob Mansfield’s new role at Apple is to focus on chips – August 3, 2013
Is Apple flying the pirate flag again? Mansfield move means something special is in works – August 1, 2013
Gruber: Nothing to read between the lines, Bob Mansfield really is working on ‘special projects’ for Apple – July 29, 2013
Apple’s Bob Mansfield to focus on ‘special projects’ – July 29, 2013
Apple removes SVP Bob Mansfield from executive team; will remain at Apple reporting to Tim Cook – July 28, 2013
Un-retired: Why Bob Mansfield is back at Apple in a big way – November 1, 2012
Tim Cook takes full control of Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall out; Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi get expanded responsibilities – October 29, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook expands executive team, Senior VP Hardware Engineering Bob Mansfield will not retire – August 27, 2012
Brain drain? Apple’s Bob Mansfield is 2nd key exec to leave since Steve Jobs died – June 29, 2012
Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, to retire; Dan Riccio to take over – June 28, 2012

26 Comments

  1. Agree with Jobs’s assessment. But who is saying the ” no” and “yes” is the most important factor. And without Steve around that is the big unanswered question.

    Miss the genius of Jobs

      1. Hasn’t MDN drop kicked you out of here yet Mac/???/Frank/etc., etc., etc. for being such a homophobic douche bag? Still laughably thinking he can call Cook supporters gay, as if that means anything except to the immature giggling 10 year old crowd, like himself.

        Your Tim Cook rhetoric is tiresome and infantile, as it was the first 3,457 times. STFU and get the heck out of MDN Dodge. You are a crashing repetitious sick little boorish bore.

  2. Steve knew it, but colleges don’t tend to teach people to say “No.” Employees are paycheck geared to always say “Yes.”

    A person or company needs to say “No!” far more often than “Yes!”

    Otherwise you don’t get much done.

  3. So its underlying technology for an autonomous vehicle, is Apple not aware that Auto car makers want complete control over their in car systems. Why would they wait for a third party like Apple to release software updates, when they can have complete intigration and control. VW Group (Lamborghini, Bentley, Audi, Skoda, VW) have already stated they are not interested in this kinda system

    1. A fair point, but there’s really two things going on here:

      a) The underlying enabling technology (eg, self-drive): in this regards, the mainstream automakers aren’t really any better than Apple, so Apple’s engagement in things like Google/Apple Maps (yes, written that way to allude to the deployment disaster) probably puts them ahead, if for no other reason than they have a bunch of customers “beta testing” their navigation system and gathering highway data (a huge information collection requirement).

      b) Apple probably doesn’t want to DIY their own entire automobile – various reasons including how that is going bigger, not smaller. However, as the TV has taught them, they need to have a credible threat to “Go it Alone” in order to strong-arm the classical automakers into adopting their product. We can all see just how painfully slow the Apple Car Play deployment has been, for example. As such, this is not necessarily an investment intended to actually be built, but a credible threat that they could eat the Automaker’s entire lunch (product) if said Automaker decides to not coordinate: “Hey, that’s a nice looking car company ya got there – would be a real shame if a new competitor were to start to steal your sales, eh?”

      -hh

    1. Musk would not be good fit. Scott Forstall though… just based on his hair cut alone… maybe. His youth, arrogance, I hope, um maybe, having made a major product production mistake, so we are lead to believe, if the kid has any vision in him, I say give him a chance. We know he knows how to say NO.

      Tim has got to go, especially if he spent billions on building a car, and at the end of the day there is no car. Funny thing, I don’t believe apple should make a car, but if billions have been spent, raising the price of the iPhone will not cover that waste.

      Doing energy great, fine, no problem with that. That is good diversification. A wireless network would be another. But, a car, um …

      Plus, cook does not get when to introduce products. steve tried, it seemed, to intro products every quarter. It made it seem as if apple was always moving forward. cook is dumping everything at the end of the year.

  4. The beginning of the end of Apple. Not likely. Next year they’re supposed to repatriate some cash so maybe they’re going to acquire some business to replace the laid-off employees. I’m not that much concerned about Apple’s auto project because it seems like it will be a long way off. Wall Street isn’t going to praise Apple for any moonshot projects unless it produces profits. Apple isn’t favored the way Alphabet is.

    1. @Derek Currie

      Nothing is in your hero Cook’s expertise… you big mouthed cocksucker.

      Now go cry to MDN to get this wittle post removed that hurt your wee feeling.

      1. In that particular case, Apple had been collaborating with Palm for years. Of course, part of their work together was to get aspects of ClarisWorks ported to Palm. But one wonders what other work was done.

        Then of course there is that pioneering work Apple did creating the Newton, the father of all PDAs, which is the core of what became the iPhone.

        IOW fellow humans: Learn, grow, expand your horizons, reach for the stars! But remember that all takes time, patience and talent. So say I. ☝☺

  5. It’s difficult to read what potential designs and technologies Apple is realigning its focus on. But it appears from the media that they are doubling down in autonomous navigation. It is all well and good to get to grips with the extremely complex task of having a car that can drive itself safely. But, Tesla, Google, Uber, and every other major automaker are now heavily investing in these technologies as well. If Apple is to bring something different to future of car design I fear that this is NOT it.

    Apple’s forte has always been the man/machine interface, whether it be software or physical controls. Apple has a large ecosystem with Siri, Maps, and iCloud that they can leverage in ways its competitors may be unable to match. On the software side, Apple can utilize Siri in combination with their maps database and Apple quality heads up display UI in ways that rivals may not think to do or are simple unable to do.

    But Apple cannot stop there. The mechanical interface of the automobile has enormous room to improve. But most people can’t envision it because that’s all they’ve known. Remember how many felt when the Motorola RAZR came out. It was the perfect end state of the mobile phone – until Blackberry can out. And then there was the iPhone, and we all know how that turned out. Many believe that the mechanical automobile UI design has been perfected, with a common design elements and placement of the steering wheel, pedals and numerous other controls. Well who said you should only control speed with your feet? Who said you should only steer with your hands? When I walk or run I do control my speed with my feet. But I also control the direction I go with my feet as well. So why not in a car as well? There are people out there who, through accident or birth do not have hands. What about the wheelchair bound? Why not be able to not only steer but be able to accelerated and decelerate with your hands? Apple should be exploring these kinds of fundamental alternatives. Some of these solutions will not only benefit the disabled but improve the driving experience for everyone. Apple is good at this kind of thing. It is here they can separate themselves from their competition.

    One final note on autonomous navigation. It seems really cool and is all the rage right now. But so were digital watches when they first came out. And so was Google Glass. Yes, occasionally it might be nice to have the car drive me if the particular route is tedious, such as a long interstate drive or navigating a crowded city traffic. But nine times out of 10 when I get into a car I WANT TO DRIVE IT.

  6. Apple is an energy company . They are building new battery tech, solar tech and fuel cell tech for their car project. They will build a lot of cars on the way to figuring out how to power them, integrate them with wireless infotainment systems, run HomeKit, some new EnterorizeKit and establish patentable tech that only they can build for a demanding public. Hacked together wannabe systems from others will be rejected, and poof, just like ATT some company will buy in and the entire industry will change

  7. Apple should build technologies that decrease the need for cars, like telecommunting technologies, online ordering of groceries, remote education, remote medical diagnostics, etc. These are things where Apple could actually contribute and do well.

    That said, the one automotive item where Apple can contribute is the entertainment/navigation/communications system if Apple can drive a standard that most automakers will accept.

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