Apple scales back ‘Project Titan,’ effort no longer includes building own car

“Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project,” Mark Gurman and Alex Webb report for Bloomberg. “Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public. ”

“New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said,” Gurman and Webb report. “Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person.”

“Apple executives have given the car team a deadline of late next year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system and decide on a final direction, two of the people said,” Gurman and Webb report. “Apple started Titan in 2014 with grand ambitions to make a dent in an auto industry… Bob Mansfield, a highly regarded manager who helped develop the original iPad, returned in April from a part-time role at Apple to lead the team. About a month later, Mansfield took the stage in a Silicon Valley auditorium packed with hundreds of Titan employees to announce the strategy shift, according to people who attended the meeting. Mansfield explained that he had examined the project and determined that Apple should move from building an outright competitor to Tesla Motors Inc. to an underlying self-driving platform.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bob, Bob, he’s our man! If Bob can’t do it, nobody can!

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

Betcha Project Titan leads to a shipping product eventually.

SEE ALSO:
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Apple Car: Everything we know about Apple’s mysterious ‘Project Titan’ – July 29, 2016
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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
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Why it’s time for an Apple Car – October 1, 2015
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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
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Bob Mansfield’s new role at Apple is to focus on chips – August 3, 2013
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Gruber: Nothing to read between the lines, Bob Mansfield really is working on ‘special projects’ for Apple – July 29, 2013
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Apple removes SVP Bob Mansfield from executive team; will remain at Apple reporting to Tim Cook – July 28, 2013
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33 Comments

  1. The auto industry of America is a massive, powerful body, with enormous influence with the government. Coupled with even more massive, even more powerful oil industry, they have the ability to severely restrict competitors’ entry into the market. Tesla is learning it the hard way; even though they are competing in the tiny top sliver of the market (high-end luxury), they are hitting roadblocks everywhere.

    Apple’s intention would likely be broader than Tesla’s, as would the industry’s resistance. Perhaps Apple needs more time to weaponise their entry into this market in order to overcome the certain fierce resistance from the fossil-based players.

    MDN is likely right; the car-building project is probably not completely scrapped; just re-booted and pushed into the ‘Phase II’ category.

  2. Raking through the coals of all the Car rumors, it’s my sense that Apple has been looking for a car manufacturing partner for years. They’ve approached a wide variety of companies (according to rumors). It was rather hallucinatory of them to jump at some point into the goal of designing their own car.

    Perhaps Tesla will relent and invite Apple to join in their autonomous driving software, which clearly isn’t ready for prime time and continues to attract scrutiny from governmental types.

    Google’s spinning-camera-on-a-rail system remains unimpressive, clunky and primitive. They don’t apparently care to take the system further. Apple may have a decent opening here. But Apple won’t settle for sticking a gizmo on the top of someone else’s car. Apple will, as usual, integrate the software and hardware to the maximum possible extent, making it better than Google’s kluge.

    1. I agree, Google’s attention span is way too short to see their self-driving car system to the end.

      Apple, on the other hand, has the potential to save a lot of lives. And make some money in the process.

    2. I’m really struggling to believe that Apple would give up on designing a car to focus only on the interior software interface and autonomous navigation. It just doesn’t add up. They need to design the whole widget. Remember how well the Motorola ROKR came out? Yeah…

      Perhaps Apple’s recent interest in the McLaren subsidiary is directly related to the downsizing of the Cupertino Titan team. Maybe Mansfield came to the conclusion that they didn’t have the right people in the talent pool to design a car of the future. But the McLaren subsidiary did.

      1. Teaming with high end makers is fine, but if the goal of Apple is to create a car that most people can afford to drive they’ll have to deal with the major car makers.

  3. Common sense finally prevails. You don’t see car manufacturers building smartphones now do you? Apple, stick with what you do best, I would say computers (no Mac refresh), but now its smartphones.

  4. In the past 20 years I have purchased 4 vehicles all of which had serious problem – the last 2 were a Volkswagen TDI (and in Canada there has been no settlement) and recently a Volvo XC 90 T8 inscription Hybrid-this vehicle lasted 3 days before the electrical system self fried with only 150 Km on the vehicle . Apple just might have brought a level of quality that does not yet exist .

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