Mark Gurman: While it waits to build a car, Apple builds on the success of CarPlay

From Gurman's "Apple’s Plan for Cars: Using IPhone to Control A/C, Seats, Radio" posted Thursday by Bloomberg News:

Apple Inc., whose CarPlay interface is used by millions of motorists to control music, get directions and make phone calls, is looking to expand its reach within cars.

The company is working on technology that would access functions like the climate-control system, speedometer, radio and seats, according to people with knowledge of the effort. The initiative, known as “IronHeart” internally, is still in its early stages and would require the cooperation of automakers.

The work underscores the idea that cars could be a major moneymaker for the tech giant -- even without selling a vehicle itself. While plans for an Apple car have faced setbacks, including the defection of key executives this year, the company has continued to make inroads with CarPlay. It lets customers link up their iPhones with a vehicle to handle so-called infotainment features. Seven years after its launch, CarPlay is now offered by most major automakers.

IronHeart would take CarPlay a step further. The iPhone-based system could access a range of controls, sensors and settings, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the project is secret.

That includes:

    • inside and outside temperature and humidity readings
    • temperature zones, fans and the defroster systems
    • settings for adjusting surround-sound speakers, equalizers, tweeters, subwoofers, and the fade and balance
    • seats and armrests
    • the speedometer, tachometer and fuel instrument clusters

My take: This is work Apple software engineers would have to do anyway, I guess.


  1. Michael Goldfeder said:
    I’m sending Tim Cook an email requesting that he hire Mark Gurman ASAP, given that Mark has all the answers to anything Apple related.

    October 7, 2021
  2. The UI in the majority of cars is terrible. Drivers fiddle with supposedly automatic climate control (ACC) systems that defy a distracted person’s comprehension. We never seem to get to a place where drivers are comfortable with voice commands, except for cursing other drivers.
    Various car models from the same manufacturer have different controls. Switch manufacturers and you end up learning a new system. Same model, new year, here come new controls for the stereo and ACC. I rented at least 2 cars a week for years, rarely got Bluetooth to pair during those rentals.
    I know ACC and audio software troubleshooting is a nightmare for dealers. Some dealers outsource software issues to dealers and private shops with someone trained to ferret out the issue.
    VW has spent millions creating some internal software development team, yet those who review cars remain unimpressed with the lot.
    Oddly enough, the various sensors and input sources are mostly standardized among all cars, Bosch being a primary source for all.
    Car manufacturers would leap at the opportunity to be done with the software development part of putting out a new car model. Toyota/GM/Ford might even find new income streams in car-centric apps available for download in the new CarPlay App Store.

    October 7, 2021
  3. David Emery said:
    Auto makers pride themselves on their vetronics, but they don’t do a very good job in my experience. Yesterday I struggled to get the Volvo’s navigation system to find the street address for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This adopts the old and clumsy style where you have to enter the state, and then the city, and then the street. Of course it tries to guess what you’re looking for, but the “pick-from” list is so long as to be unusable. (And the zip code is of no use. Who knows the darn zip code for someplace you’re trying to visit?)

    Why you can’t just enter a street address and let the software parse it, is beyond me!

    October 7, 2021
  4. Gregg Thurman said:
    even without selling a vehicle itself.

    Isn’t this similar to what I hypothesized several weeks ago? Let others build the factories and cars. Let Apple provide the autonomous sensors, processors, 5G radios and dash controls.

    One thousand dollars profit on one million vehicles per year is ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Two million vehicles per year is…. You get the idea.

    October 7, 2021
  5. Jerry Doyle said:
    I question seriously that automobile manufacturers throw out the welcome mat to Apple relative to its “Ironheart” initiative. Automobile manufacturers now see Apple as a direct competitor whether with the tech giant’s own car offering or with the tech giant being inside of cars with its own software offerings.

    GM announced yesterday plans to double its revenue by the year 2030. When asked how, Mary Barra said “subscriptions.” Ms. Barra sees $80B new revenue from software enabled service subscriptions.

    Little doubt Car manufacturers are aware of the App Store litigation and of Developers complaints and prefer not to have Apple controlling consumers’ access to software inside of car manufacturers’ built cars.

    I suspect car manufacturers are going to hire the Doug Field(s) and Craig Federighi (wishful thinking there) of the world to get their Vetronics correct and do as much as possible to mitigate Apple’s software influence inside the manufacturers cars.

    Car manufacturers see Apple as their competitor, not only with the tech giant possibly coming to market with its own manufactured vehicle as direct competition, but with the tech giant being inside of the industry’s manufactured cars controlling with its own software operating system. A’int gonna happen if Mary Barra has her say.

    October 7, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      The UI in the majority of cars is terrible.

      Apple is already inside cars today. Who does UI better than Apple?

      If Apple controls the dash, and makes $1000 profit per vehicle, why should it build the entire car?

      Car manufacturers are not vertically integrated. They are the ultimate in outsourcing components, then assembling them.

      Is Ford (or anyone else) going to develop its own:
      Autonomous software?

      No. It will buy off the shelf hardware and try to control it with proprietary software. You can’t optimize a system like that to the performance standards that autonomous will demand.

      October 7, 2021
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Gregg Thurman: I hear you brother Gregg. You’re preaching to the choir. Just ask yourself one question, though, and answer honestly. If you were Mary Barra would you want Apple inside your manufactured vehicles controlling the software and setting prices on subscription services for all; or would you want to control the software and glean all the subscription services revenue for your company? This essentially is what Ms. Barra said yesterday.

        The GM CEO plans for doubling GM’s revenues by 2030 through “software subscription services” does not mean, I believe, an integral role for Apple as much as for GM controlling its own destiny in software subscription services. I suspect this will be so for all car manufacturers. I can’t see car manufacturers rushing to throw the welcome mat out for Apple’ “Ironheart” initiative. Car manufacturers desire to control the inside of their manufactured vehicles the same as Apple desires to control the inside of its “Wall-Garden.”

        October 7, 2021
        • Gregg Thurman said:
          If you were Mary Barra would you want Apple inside your manufactured vehicles controlling the software and setting prices on subscription services for all; or would you want to control the software and glean all the subscription services revenue for your company?

          These are contract issues.

          If we’re talking subscriptions we should look to MSFT’s model is selling the OS that powers millions of computers sold by Dell, HP, Lenovo and many other white label devices. MSFT was, at one time, THE leading technology company. What made them ubiquitous was the software (not owned by MSFT) that was developed for it.

          Every couple of years or so, MSFT offered updates for two to three hundred dollars, without earning a dime from developer’s products.

          We have no idea how a Ford or GM or Toyota may deal with Apple, but they aren’t the only players in the automotive industry. With an Apple developed dash like CarPlay, and an Apple autonomous system, the entry barriers in EVs would drop dramatically. The number of new autonomous offerings in Asia, Africa and South America would skyrocket.

          Performance would be essentially the same as the big boys, without the cost. It will come down to personal preference and style.

          October 7, 2021
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    From Apple’s Stocks news app. Rimac and Bugatti just merged with Rimac holding 55% of the new venture. Rimac Technology was not part of the deal. Bugatti was owned by Porsche, which is owned by Volkswagen.

    “It (Rimac Technology) has contracts in place to supply major premium carmakers with components and complete power trains for the high-performance variants of their pure-electric models.“

    “Your next car might not be a Nevera, but there’s a chance it will have Rimac tech on board.”

    Why couldn’t your next car (EV of course) have Apple tech (including autonomous) on board?

    Oh, the founder and CEO of Rimac Techologies (and CEO of the new venture) is a 33 year old Croatian, born in the same city as Nikola Tesla.

    October 7, 2021
  7. Steven Philips said:
    Wasn’t there something in the news recently about some auto manufacturer adopting a complete system from Samsung or Google or something? Sorry, I don’t recall any more specific details. But I was thinking at the time that Apple could do/have done the same thing.

    October 7, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      But I was thinking at the time that Apple could do/have done the same thing.

      The expense in developing an electric vehicle in in the sensors and the autonomous software and the hardware that powers it.

      Anybody want to argue against Apple’s silicon or software chops? This is the basis for my contention that Apple could become THE premier supplier to the autonomous EV industry.

      It isn’t necessary that Apple actually brand an EV to be wildly successful. Just saying “Apple Inside” raises the value proposition of an EV manufacturer.

      October 7, 2021

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