Apple Car U-turn dents ‘reliable’ analyst’s reputation

From Patently Apple’s “Apple Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s Crystal Ball isn’t working right lately” posted Sunday:

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is changing his mind a lot lately. In early December we reported that Kuo had changed his own forecast for mini-LED display volume in Apple products quite dramatically.  On another front back in August, Kuo forecast that Apple car would be ready between 2023 and 2025. Then a report from Reuters about the Apple car possibly being read in and around 2024 rocked the market. That seemed to rock Kuo too who now all of a sudden is downplaying his own prediction about the arrival of an Apple car.

According to MacRumors, Kuo has decided that the arrival is now between 2025-2027. More specifically, Kuo’s report to clients stated:

“We predicted in a previous report that Apple will launch Apple Car in 2023–2025 […] However, our latest survey indicates that the current development schedule of Apple Car is not clear, and if development starts this year and everything goes well, it will be launched in 2025–2027 at the earliest. Due to changes in the EV/self-driving market and Apple’s high-quality standards, we would not be surprised if Apple Car’s launch schedule is postponed to 2028 or later.”

Kuo added that the market is “overly bullish” about the Apple Car’s launch schedule, and he has advised investors to avoid buying Apple Car-related stocks at this time.

Could Kuo’s hypocrisy ring any louder? It was Kuo who was first in being “overly bullish” with his original 2023-2025 forecast just four months back. Perhaps Kuo just didn’t like the limelight being taken away by the Reuters report.

Kuo should stick to his shorter-term forecasts where he’s been fairly accurate because no one, including Kuo, could point to 2028 with any accuracy when it comes to an Apple project. It’s just ridiculous.

The MacRumors link has two more paragraphs of direct quotes from Kuo’s note:

The market has high expectations for Apple Car. Still, we remind investors that although Apple has a variety of competitive advantages, it is not always successful in new business. For example, Apple failed to enter the smart speaker market. The demand for HomePod and HomePod mini were lower than expected, and the development of new smart speaker models had been temporarily suspended. The competition in the EV/self-driving car market is fiercer than that for smart speakers, so we think it’s perilous to jump to the conclusion that Apple Car will succeed.

If Apple Car wants to succeed in the future, the key success factor is big data/AI, not hardware. One of our biggest concerns about Apple Car is that when Apple Car is launched, the current self-driving car brands will have accumulated at least five years of big data and be conducive to deep learning/AI. How does Apple, a latecomer, overcome this lagging gap?

My take: Note that MacRumors, when quoting Kuo, dropped its usual “reliable analyst” honorific.

See also: How reliable is Ming-Chi Kuo? 

15 Comments

  1. Fred Stein said:
    I agree with Kuo, mainly that 2024/2025 is early and that data/AI is the key success factor. Timing, is anyone’s guess.

    1
    December 28, 2020
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Security:

    Hackable AV’s would be a disaster. Apple’s has the best security, a big advantage.

    1
    December 28, 2020
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    Kuo is starting to sound like me when I’m asked when one should buy AAPL.

    “The best time to buy AAPL was yesterday. If you missed that opportunity you should buy it today. And if you couldn’t make up your mind to buy today then you should buy tomorrow. Then forget you own it”.

    4
    December 28, 2020
  4. Alan Trerise said:
    At anywhere from 3 to 8 years out I’m sure Apple doesn’t even believe their own schedules. Its dart throwing to predict something you’ve never done before.

    4
    December 28, 2020
  5. Jerry Doyle said:
    May I make a suggestion. I hold Ming-Chi Kuo in high esteem following often his judicious prognostications relative to forthcoming Apple products. It is premature for the media to tout that Ming-Chi is faltering in his historical incisive Apple product predictions. My suggestion is to restore credibility to the good man’s reputation by extending an invite for him to appear on Apple 3.0 Zoom conference. Such appearance will go far in rehabilitating whatever portion of Kuo’s professional reputation he may have suffer.

    1
    December 28, 2020
    • Fred Stein said:
      Great idea Jerry. Thanks for suggesting it.

      1
      December 28, 2020
  6. Jerry Doyle said:
    I believe the real news here is that Apple is working on a car, not attempting foolishly to pinpoint a target date roll-out. We already have seen this movie before with other Apple products. Apple releases products on “its” timeline and that timeline is about releasing the product when the product is ready. As Alan Trerise stated correctly, Apple doesn’t believe its own schedule (timeline). At this juncture it still is a moving target. So, for “Patently Apple” to ream Mr. Ming-Chi Kuo as they did in this article is little less than Patently Apple being disingenuous in its act of denigrating this respected Apple analyst.

    1
    December 28, 2020
  7. Bart Yee said:
    I don’t have skin in what Kuo or other analysts’ predictions or predilections are about Apple’s secret projects. What I am looking at is the necessary pieces of the puzzle to fall into place for an autonomous, semi-autonomous, augmented, or comprehensive Apple vehicle or transport system to evolve to. Let me explain.
    1/

    0
    December 28, 2020
    • Bart Yee said:
      A. Hardware – LIDAR, Radar, infrared, visual and optical spatial awareness sensors, both local and distant (out to at least 1/4 mile or 1000-1320 feet) – ✅ check! Development continues of course but this capability is ramping up.

      Corollary automotive sensors for vehicle performance and control (powertrain, suspension, steering, traction) are well established but it is unknown if Apple has partnered with companies like Denso, Bosch, etc. for implementation.
      2/

      0
      December 28, 2020
      • Bart Yee said:
        B. Internal control and connectivity – the need for a very ultra fast, highly capable, automotive environment hardened CPU & computing structure and control system to manage all requirements including mapping, location, address, and business/residential identity and function. Machine learning and adaptive learning a big plus. HUD and clear, efficient and understandable, new familiar interactive user interface a HUGE plus.

        Corollary – the need for internal and near ultra fast connectivity for passengers and local area position interaction (other cars, objects, lanes, entrances and exits, etc.) – ✅ check! And coming. The UWB U1 chip, iBeacons and M1X and succeeding iterations can provide the computing and connectivity power that future, not present systems need for occupants and situational awareness.
        3/

        0
        December 28, 2020
      • Bart Yee said:
        C. Real time GPS accuracy and reliability – as good as GPS is now, it’s still relying on 1990’s and early 2000’s technology. Newest GPS III satellites are already up, in production, and boosted into orbit on schedule for a 2030’s completion. GPS III has significant improvements in accuracy, redundancy, and focused coverage. Major parts of first deployment may be completed by 2024. Hmmm, coincidence? Again, not unlike the rollout of Apple Pay and NFC terminals, Apple may be waiting till all external infrastructure (including more widely available charging systems) are in place and Apple doesn’t have to build it all themselves.)
        4/

        0
        December 28, 2020
  8. Bart Yee said:
    D. Real time external connectivity – True 5G low latency and wide band coverage in areas of use or need. For vehicles to be able to interact and share information (traffic jams, orderly road sharing, accident avoidance by both or more vehicles, plus real time road, weather and travel information) increased and massive 5G rollout must continue. Apple is dependent on telecoms for the “internet of roads and cars” for this to happen and, at least for the US, would take at least till 2022 through 2024 to be substantial enough to handle cars AND mobile, let alone residential and business bandwidth. Dedication of bandwidth to vehicles exclusively would be a huge undertaking (just connecting heavy truck traffic is another task).

    How does Apple address this? With its own custom, more specialized 5G modem and antenna designs. In the 5 years of the Qualcomm deal, Apple can spend plenty of time learning and building its own mobile device modems but also expand use applications into vehicular as well as residential and business., each with different performance and usage parameters. That deal runs to 2025 with an option to 2027, but IMO may not preclude Apple from building its own for vehicular uses.

    Will it be the equivalent of putting a Mac Mini or iPad Pro into a car?
    /5

    0
    December 28, 2020
    • Bart Yee said:
      E. Manufacturing partnerships – so much of a proposed Apple car is still automotive hardware based. If Apple partners with a known and proven automaker, regardless of size, Apple will want reliable but sophisticated design and manufacturing capability, coupled with good cost structures. Creating this from scratch a la Tesla may or may not be wise, many many unknowns. Whatever it takes though will take time and 3-5 years is not unreasonable.

      Similarly, the battery “breakthroughs” that have been connected with AppleCar ™ will need further development, testing, validation, real world use, recycling and iteration after iteration. Tie this in with green energy production and storage for distribution for Apple facilities and maybe even into home solar and one can see the disruptive possibilities.
      /6

      0
      December 28, 2020
  9. Michael Goldfeder said:
    @Jerry Doyle: As Ming-Chi Kuo stated; “We predicted in a previous report that Apple will launch Apple Car in 2023–2025 […] However, our latest survey indicates that the current development schedule of Apple Car is not clear…”

    Your invitation to make himself available for an Apple 3.0 zoom call is spot on. Because then he will have the opportunity to utilize the PED subscribers to upgrade his current “survey” base to a more understanding cadre of sophisticated Apple shareholders as the knowledge base I observe in each and every comment on the PED site is quite impressive.

    1
    December 28, 2020
  10. Bart Yee said:
    F. Finally, when will the market be “right”? For all it’s visibility electric and low pollution hybrid-electric vehicles still occupy a relatively small niche in automotive sales both here in the US and worldwide. Although steadily growing in market and automotive maker attention, the buying public, especially older demographics, are slow to embrace this technology until concerns about range, charging availability and rapidity, cost, and reliability are fully solved. And they have an ICE ownership nostalgia and inertia which is slow to overcome.

    This transition will take 5-10-15-20 years as previously alluded to by blog commenters. But the 25-40 y/o demographic may well accelerate this transition as the boomer generation transitions out (sorry friends, a reality). Assuming stable recovered economies, steady will to improve air quality, and shifting ideas of vehicle ownership vs trip usage, Apple could well be stepping in at a more accepting and optimal market time in 4-6 years. As usual, let others take the risks of opening up the market, and then Apple disrupts that market with products they have been working on for years.

    Apple plans long term and has the patience to get it right. These virtues have made it what it is today and what it will be in the future.
    /7

    0
    December 28, 2020

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