Horace Dediu: Why Apple isn’t ready to disrupt transportation (video)

“I hate to say it, but I think Jobs would get it like that (snap). He was a motorcycle rider. He understood smallness.”

Horace Dediu has seen the future of urban transportation. Disruption will come from below, he says, creating new markets for vehicles that look more like bicycles than any “Apple Car.”

So far his pitch to Apple — and any other tech company that will hear him out — has fallen on deaf ears.

I asked him for thoughts about Apple’s response at the end of Saturday’s subscriber-only Zoom call.

His answer, in 5:40 minutes:


  1. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    PED —

    Video now shows as “unavailable” — at least at 1052a PST.

    October 31, 2021
  2. S Lawton said:
    “Horace Dediu has seen the future of urban transportation. Disruption will come from below, he says, creating new markets for vehicles that look more like bicycles than any “Apple Car.””
    I can’t help but notice that for many of you and Apple, family seems to be a foreign concept. It’s products are designed primarily for individual use only. Your phone, your watch, your airports and, according to Horace, your car. Where’s family time in the mix? As for bikes, we already have electric bikes out there.

    October 31, 2021
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    I am somewhat puzzled over auto-bikes being disrupters in transportation. We already have auto-bikes, auto-cycles and auto-cars globally. In my US state auto-cars fall under the regulatory guidance of motorbikes or motorcycles. We do have three wheel vehicles, a few two wheels and I even saw a one wheel contraption of a car that looked more like a motorized tricycle.

    I doubt if Vietnam or India even regulates theirs’ as the ones that I hop when traveling to those countries raced through the streets in between cars, trucks, oxen, goats and cows traveling the thoroughfare; and my driver even left the roads at times to speed down the sidewalks. There has to be over 5,000 auto-cycles every 50 yards on the streets of Ho-Chi-Ming City. To cross the streets one must pretend that he is “Moses,” parting the Red Sea. You close your eyes, take a step into the street and concentrate on maintaining your walking gait so that the auto-cyclists can decide to pass in front of you or behind. If your gait stutters, then you become “roadkill.”

    No, I don’t understand where Horace is coming from. I welcome hearing him elaborate more on micro-mobility. If auto-cycles had efficacy, then we already would have seen its benefits in countries where auto-bikes prevail. During my travels, it all looked like organized chaos.

    October 31, 2021
  4. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    @ S Lawton: As a matter of fact, they are all avid readers. No matter the dozens of books I read to them over time, occasionally I’d run out of published works. I created a fictional village and in the instances I was without material to read, I would tell them spontaneous stories about two kids who lived there. My challenge is those are the stories they most remember and they’ve asked me to write them down for their kids (when they come). One of my future retirement projects is to recreate the village using model train pieces and then work from memory to recreate the stories. I suspect what their kids will get are mostly new stories in a setting I first imagined over 25 years ago. I don’t think anyone will mind. The point is, technology is no match for the imagination of children and a good story line.

    November 1, 2021
  5. Smartphones do lead many, especially certain vulnerable young people, away from family into isolation and even self-depreciation. Instagram/Snapchat/Tiktok face such charges. I see young couples out to enjoy an evening looking at their phones much of the time.
    The best parents engage children, mine did and I vote & read paper & eBooks voraciously because Mom & Dad taught me. Parents must teach kids responsible use of tech, just like motorcycles, cars & firearms, if they are in the home.
    The most disruptive device in the world of commercial photography in the past 10 years is the quadcopter mounted digital camera. DJI dominates drone sales, now. Apple is a leader in family photography/videography. Put on a VR headset and fly a real radio operated jet, helicopter or other model, over a real field or canyon. It’s an incredible thrill sweeping through radio-controlled (RC) plane clubs today!

    November 1, 2021
  6. In cities, beach towns, on farms and all over parks I see people driving all manner of contraption that is not car. Golf carts, scooters, dirt bikes, electric wheelchairs, massive backwards trikes, bicycles built for 4 or 8. Wait until you see a Chang Li electric tricycle.
    A recent Apple ad encourages us to strap our iPhone to a bike and jump over something. The iPhone ends up in a muddy puddle. Apple, including investors, want to see their gear used everywhere except at the family dinner table…
    I’d rather see Apple secure silicon & software in 45% of all forms of transport than an Apple SUV roll past now & then. Apple’s App Store in the dash, Toyota marque on the hood is fine with me!

    November 1, 2021
  7. Bart Yee said:
    The biggest issue IMO for micromobility is not for what size and people format it is for, it is the fact that it must in most places, share the same roads as vehicles like automobiles, trucks, buses, and all manner of more dangerous contraptions. Micromobility IMO will only grow when urban areas embrace their usage and provide safe, protected, and useful paths, trails, and roadways exclusively for their use. This assumes all riders and operators can and will adhere to the same rules of the roads as when they drive, and this is a big assumption for their own safety. This would promote much more acceptable use for micromobility based on human or electric motive power within acceptable speed limit (typically less than 30 mph) but where reasonably unimpeded traffic flow makes micromobility more efficient and useful.

    For people in the Far East and some European countries who ride two and three wheel “bikes” with and without power assist, the density of these riders trying to share normal roadways makes for absolutely chaotic and completely unsafe conditions. Part of this is because people may (likely) have little exposure to, and regulations to guard, education, motivation, or incentives to learn and obey road laws (if any) that would guide safe usage. In most of those areas, unfortunately, its really a free for all or “out for yourself only” mentality, and IMO, this creates a herd of wheeled beings who only want the road to operate for themselves, not the good of most or all. Plus vehicular traffic creates an “us vs them” mentality with cars having the upper hand from a physics point of view – always.

    If cars were banned in certain urban areas, if there were specifically set aside lanes, or protected lanes on roads, freeways (that would be interesting) or completely inaccessible to cars, then we could go a long way to creating micromobility. Of course, then there’s the issue of people who would just like to walk or run and enjoy the outdoors, and would the micromobility folks share the space with them?

    November 1, 2021
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @Bart Yee: As usual Bart Yee, an excellent exposé on some of the issues in micro-mobility acceptance.

      Perhaps I do not understand clearly where Horace is coming from, but the only area where I see micro-mobility is in a high density urban area and even here go to Ho-Chi-Minh City which is the epitome of auto-bikes, auto-cycles and whatever single propel contraption; and it is total organized chaos.

      Much of the organized chaos is the result of the micro-mode transport itself. As I noted in my comment, when street congestion materializes then every form of micro-transportation seeks the least pathway of resistance such as sidewalks, in between other transports, down through alley ways, even through commerce exchanges. Crazy Americans also would drive right through, up, down and inside a vendor’s business if it meant leapfrogging ahead in congested traffic. Micro-mobility forms of transport have done little to ease the congestion of many Indian and Southeast Asian cities.

      Americans have a love affair with their cars and trucks. That love affair is not going to end anytime soon.

      November 1, 2021
  8. Gasoline in Germany, right now, is $7.38/gallon. In the Netherlands it runs nearly $9/gal after you adjust for liters, etc. Hybrids, electrics, bicycles, scooters, shank’s mare, anything other than an SUV starts to look attractive at those prices. Where I live in US, NJ petrol is $3.45/gal. More are working from home, others use public transport. Ridesharing is unreliable, too few drivers. Journeymen will never switch to bikes but EVs & hybrids are around.

    November 1, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      Not only that, but in NJ the gas is still pumped for you! Right Thomas? 🙂

      Meanwhile, in the SF Bay Area: A sizable fraction of stations are now over $5/gal – self serve prices!

      November 1, 2021
      • Absurdly they still pump it for us. Supposedly to prevent overfilling & spilling.
        My personal ethos is to tip any person that provides me with service, housekeepers, shuttle drivers, boat crews, and yes, I tip the bloke that pumps my gas!

        November 2, 2021
  9. Jerry Doyle said:
    @Thomas Williams: “…. Absurdly they still pump it for us. Supposedly to prevent overfilling & spilling.”

    On my last trip to Kiev, Ukraine I checked into my assigned hotel. After registering, the desk clerk gave me a piece of paper. I asked what this piece of paper was for, and the desk clerk said to give it to the lady at the desk on my floor for her to give me my room key. When I exited the elevator door, there was this desk with the lady behind it. I gave her the piece of paper. She reached into the desk to retrieve a room key and then led me to my room, opening the door and giving me the key. On exiting my room to leave the hotel she retrieved the key from me before my getting onto the elevator.

    I later asked my driver what the paper/room key routine was all about. Can’t hotel management make plastic cards or refit the room doors electronically for patrons to get rid of a room clerk stationed on every floor of the 13 storied building? That is 13 jobs that could be put to better use for maximum operational efficiency running the hotel and enhanced consumer convenience. My driver responded: “… What you observed is the residual of post communism where everyone is to have a job in society through the development of a constitutional socialist state.”

    (Please not this was not the situation at the 5 Star Hotel downtown at Independence Square. I suspect hotel patrons would not have such patience.)

    November 2, 2021

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