Mention Apple, one of the world’s most valuable companies by market capitalization, to auto managers, and you get dark murmurings about a technology giant ready to pounce on the global car industry with the same disruptive designs it unleashed on the computer, music and cellphone sectors.
And it’s true that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook plans to build a battery-powered, highly networked “iCar.” But the company has so far lacked the expertise to mass produce a premium quality car.
It’s now clear that Germany luxury automakers BMW and Daimler won’t be helping the Americans. Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche has ended talks with Apple about jointly developing the car, industry sources told Handelsblatt. BMW Chief Executive Harald Krüger had already told the Californians no.
What’s so interesting is why the talks are alleged – or assumed – to have failed. It’s not about the vehicle, it’s about the data that the vehicle will capture and what it reveals about the driver.
The iCar would be packed with cameras and sensors providing a huge amount of data that Apple wants to hook up to its iCloud. The Germans, by contrast, see the key to their success in promising customers a high degree of data privacy.
They’re worried they would put off buyers if information on journeys, driving behavior and consumer spending habits were processed in America by IT giants like Apple or Google. That’s why Daimler, BMW and Audi last year purchased Nokia’s intelligent mapping business in order to retain sovereignty over the data generated by drivers.