Apple's unconfirmed project to build an electric, potentially self-driving car has hit a snag, with executives reportedly demanding change after a recent progress review.
AppleInsider cites an insider source who claims the company has instituted a hiring freeze on staff for the project, and that Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive was unhappy with its direction.
The part of the story about Ive is not true, according to a person familiar with the matter, leaving Apple's potential move into the automotive market a matter of pure speculation. The question of a hiring freeze, or anything else to do with the project, is unconfirmed at this time.
The notion of an Apple car, or perhaps an iCar, has been around for some years. More recently, the rumors have gained steam as Apple has hired personnel from automakers such as Tesla and Ford. Previous reports have said Apple's automotive effort is called Project Titan, although Apple has not confirmed any of the stories.
The trend in recent automotive offerings among big tech companies such as Apple and Google has been towards convergence, as automakers embrace tech and connectivity as features. Meanwhile Apple and Google offer better integration with their smartphones into the car dashboard using the CarPlay and Android Auto platforms respectively. Whether this convergence will result in collision remains to be seen.
Automotive analyst Thilo Koslowski, Vice President and Practice Leader of Automotive for Gartner, told CNET that he predicted in 2009 that a technology company would announce an automobile by 2016. Updating his prediction, Koslowski said that tech companies would find it "challenging to build a car, make it reliable and also make it compelling" in the market.
The most compelling reason why Apple might be designing a car has to do with Google. The two companies are arch-rivals in the mobile OS market, and Google has been publicly researching self-driving cars for many years. Both companies may see cars as the mobile electronics platform of the future, and an area for future growth.