Applehastoo much money. I believe
that our best creativity comes from constraint.When we’ve accumulatedmore than enough of any resource, two things happen: 1)We get more cautious. (We have more to lose.) 2)We have a harder time making decisions. (When we can do anything, it’s hard to know which things to do.) How much is too much?
What’sbehindtherumors? It sure feels like
there’s something here… Reports emerged this week… an electric car… Apple’s plans are unclear and unconfirmed … a few hundred people to work… And now there is speculation that the company is working on a car… surely be designed in the famous studio where Ive and his colleagues work. Autos have become the latest obsession for Silicon Valley, with Apple assigning about 200 people to work on an electric vehicle technology… Investors have long dreamed of Apple acquiring Tesla Motors, given the disruptive characteristics and cultural similarities between the two companies.
Appledesigns. Apple is the greatest
product design and business design* company in industrial history. *This part tends to be forgotten in all our excitement about the toys, but it is the real reason Apple continually surprises the skeptics.
Theauto guys seemclueless. “If there
were a rumor that Mercedes planned to start building smartphones, then Apple would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me.” - Dieter Zetsche, Chairman Daimler AG *and former CEO Daimler-Chrysler. (And who just lost his head of North American R&D to… Apple.) “We take steel, raw steel, and turn it into car. They have no idea what they're getting into if they get into that.” -Dan Akerson, former CEO General Motors “Absolutely silly.” - Praveen Narayanan, automotive research manager at Frost & Sullivan
Theautoguysareright,butinthewrongway. Detroit says, “Cars are
about bending metal & that'shard.” Sure, but that assumes a 100 year old business model. A better way to think outside that iron box is to ask a few questions… Q: What is the Amazon of taxis? A: Uber Q: What is the iTunes of commuting? A: Zip car Don't ask, ‘How heavy is iron?’ Ask, ‘What is purpose of a car?’ If the purposeof a car is to get me from A-to-B with convenience, comfort and style, then car ownership is the business to disrupt. I suspect that’s the business Appleis thinking about. (Yes,asacar-guy,ItotallygetthatIneedto own.ButIusedtosaythataboutmoviesand musictoo.)
Thisringsa bell. “There's no chance
that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” - Steve Ballmer, 2007 “It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.” - Bill Gates, 2010
Here’saword: Tesla. Okay,it won’t be
profitable until 2020, but comeon, Detroit – takea hint! • A Silicon Valley start-up. • No previousauto manufacturing experience. • Breakthrough technology. • All electric. • Beautiful design. • Peoplewith moneywant it.
Thekeywill be thebusinessmodel. Those who
know technology know that the products Apple makes aren’t really the key to their success. What has been more critical is Apple’s ability to use their products to redefine entire businesses. Whether music and movie licensing and distribution, the creation of the app universe, or redefining publishing, Applemakes most of its money by making those new markets.
2020visionrequired. What AirBnb is doing
to Marriott. What will Apple’s iCar do to Detroit, Stuttgart, and Toyota City? What Uber is doing to Yellow. What Amazon did to Borders. What iTunes did to Tower Records. What Starbucks did to every café in the world.
Sources • Bloomberg Business, Nov.
25, 2014. “Apple Tops 700 Billion…” by Tim Higgins, Joseph Ciolli, Callie Bost • The New Yorker, Feb. 23, 2015. “The Shape of Things to Come.” by Ian Parker. • The New Yorker online, Feb. 24, 2015. “Could Jony Ive Pull off and Apple Car?” by John Cassidy. • Business Insider, Aug 4, 2014. “Tim Cook Will Have to Prove Himself…” by Steve Kovach. • The Economist, Feb. 21, 2015. “Upsetting the Apple Car.” • Marketplace Radio, Feb. 20, 2015. “Will Apple Put the Pedal to the Metal?” by Nova Safo • Bloomberg Business, Feb 18, 2015. “Apple Hairball?...” by Tim Higgins • Medium.com, Feb. 18, 2015. “Apple will buy Tesla…” by Jason Calacanis (@jason)