Pumping the brakes: Apple’s car ambitions

It's 2020. Where's the Apple Car?

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Welcome to 2020, the year Apple will fail to deliver the Apple Car.

Yes, just five years ago reports were saying Apple would start producing cars by 2020. And guess what year it is?

Okay, The Macalope just told you so of course you’d get it. But we all know what you’re still writing on your checks. If you’re Gary McGee of Fort Wayne, Ind., you’re writing obscenities in the memo field. Knock it off, Gary. Grow up. You’re 35. Just act like it for once. And, no, Ellen does not think it’s funny. That’s the tired laughter of someone who’s given up.

She’s leaving you, Gary. And, yes, this is how you find out, you read it in a technology column.

Apple is still working on car technology but the odds of them shipping a car this year are in the low zeroes. Standard mathematical zero, fancy Medieval bible font zero, six-green-bars-arranged-in-a-rectangle digital clock zero, what have you.

Assuming what Apple is working on is the whole hog, the full boat, the maximum enchilada—that is to say, a self-driving car and not just an electric car or improved CarPlay—even if Apple was ready to ship one this year, society isn’t ready for Apple to ship one this year. When the current crop of self-driving cars fails to recognize humans for being human, we’re gonna need a little more proof that these are road-ready. Sure, human drivers killed more people in 15 seconds in 2019 than self-driving cars have in ever but, if this is the future we’re headed for, let’s get it right before we Facebook it up. “Move fast and break things” is not a great mantra when the things you might break are actual people.

It’s actually not really that great a mantra when it’s other things, either, like the closet Nazis used to have to stay in, truth, democracy, etc.

Or beloved blown glass poodles.

Not that The Macalope has any experience with that.

Cough.

It was pretty obvious to most observers that Apple was not going to ship a car this year. The Macalope doesn’t know if the reports of a 2020 delivery were nonsense or if Apple really thought it could do that. The Macalope’s been in project management before. Sometimes you get optimistic. Like wildly, impossibly optimistic. And Apple’s car project has gone through some retooling in the last five years which, who knows, could have been related to some missed deadlines.

There were those who said Apple couldn’t make a car because cars are magical devices that only 12th-level wizards from Deetroyt can make, and then there were those who said, nah, Apple’s gonna knock one out in five years. Surprise, neither of those things was right. It’s not easy to build a car but it’s not impossible, either.

Despite the joke in the lede, Apple cannot “fail to deliver” something it hasn’t even admitted it’s working on. And if the company is working on a car, the horny one would much rather see them get it done right than get it done fast.

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