Bloomberg: ‘How Apple Scaled Back Its Titanic Plan to Take on Detroit’

Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, writing for Bloomberg:

By the end of 2015, the project was blighted by internal strife. Managers battled about the project’s direction, according to people with knowledge of the operations. “It was an incredible failure of leadership,” one of the people said. In early 2016, project head Steve Zadesky, a former Ford Motor Co. engineer and early iPod designer, left Titan. Zadesky, who remains at Apple, declined to comment.

Zadesky handed the reins to his boss, Dan Riccio, adding to responsibilities that already included engineering annual iPhone, iPad, and Mac refreshes. Bob Mansfield, a highly regarded manager who helped develop the original iPad, returned in April from a part-time role at Apple to lead the team.

About a month later, Mansfield took the stage in a Silicon Valley auditorium packed with hundreds of Titan employees to announce the strategy shift, according to people who attended the meeting. Mansfield explained that he had examined the project and determined that Apple should move from building an outright competitor to Tesla Motors Inc. to an underlying self-driving platform.

Making a platform that Apple would, I can only suppose, license to actual car makers doesn’t sound anything like Apple at all. I’m not disputing Gurman and Webb’s reporting, I’m just pointing out that if true, it’s the most un-Apple-like project in the company’s history.

There are ways to square this story with Apple’s traditional integrated approach. Perhaps they’re thinking, Do the software first, see if we can do something worth making, and if so, buy a car company. But even that doesn’t sound like Apple.

Marco Arment:

Even if only the big-picture story is correct and every detail is wrong, Project Titan makes no sense to me now.

Monday, 17 October 2016

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