Apple Is Obviously Developing A Car, So How Will It Change The Auto Industry?

It's a fast-changing market.

In the past five or so years, self-driving cars have evolved rapidly from a purely conceptual phase to testing on real streets. Once the companies behind them — including longtime automakers Ford and GM, as well as newer companies such as Tesla and Google — jump through the legal hurdles blocking their availability to the public, it'll enact a massive shift not only in the car industry, but transportation in general. We don't quite know what being in a driverless car alongside normal cars will be like yet, but we can reasonably guess. What we can't guess is how one of tech's biggest players might eventually factor into the scene: Apple.

Apple hasn't said a single word publicly about its plans to build a car, but as Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently commented in an interview with BBC News, "It's pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it." Despite its best efforts to keep both new product features and the existence of unannounced products completely under wraps, Apple is too big of a beast to completely quiet every whisper — the company's been hiring automotive experts to work in a "secret lab" for a while now. Clearly they're looking to get into the car industry in some form.

So what might its foray look like? Musk says that regardless of what it is, it should "expand the industry." Those sound like the words of a man who isn't afraid of the competition and, in fact, embraces it. As the tech mogul pointed out, the automotive industry is in the midst of enormous change and there will be plenty of room for Tesla to have a say in where it all leads.

"The two biggest revolutions in transport are electrification and autonomy," Musk explained. "Those are the two biggest innovations since the moving production line and they're both happening at about the same time."

In keeping with Apple's strictly high standards, it's not likely we'll see anything like an Apple Car for a few years. The company will need to spend a fair amount of time in the research and development phase to understand how it might be able to shape the market. Basically, if it's not innovative and a clear cut above, it's not worth doing. It'll take a while to nail down what that really means when it comes to a new-age car.

In the meantime, Musk's Tesla and all the other players have the advantage of getting their autonomous, connected, and/or electric vehicles to the market first and seeing how the public responds. When an opportunity this big opens up at the cross section of technology and transportation that's this crucial to human life, you can bet the heavyweights will rush to claim their stake, and they're well on their way there. Apple's just biding its time in the hopes it'll once again create something everyone needs that no one saw coming.

(H/T: The Verge)

Cover image: Flickr