Noted Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo, described as the "best Apple analyst on the planet" by the specialist CultofMac website, has claimed that Apple is planning to release an Apple Car as early as 2023, and is also working on an augmented reality headset.
The headset will be the first product to appear. Kuo suggests that it will be introduced in 2020. He describes it as the "next revolutionary user interface". However, Apple will be somewhat late to market, with Facebook-owned Oculus and the HTC Vive largely carving up the existing market between them.
But it is the long-rumoured Apple Car that has excited most interest.
In the research note, the TF International Securities analyst pinned the launch date between 2023 and 2025, describing it as "the next star product" from Apple.
Kuo believes that the vehicle sector is on the cusp of a disruptive revolution as it likely shifts from carbon-based fuels to electric, with the prospect of self-driving vehicles on the horizon.
"We expect that Apple Car, which will likely be launched in 2023-2025, will be the next star product," wrote Kuo in his research note, which MacRumors.com has got its hands on.
It continued: "The reasons for this are as follows:
- Potentially huge replacement demands are emerging in the auto sector because it is being redefined by new technologies. The case is the same as the smartphone sector 10 years ago;
- Apple's leading technology advantages (for example, augmented reality) would redefine cars and differentiate [the] Apple Car from peers' products;
- Apple's service will grow significantly by entering the huge car finance market via Apple Car, and,
- Apple can do a better integration of hardware, software, and service than current competitors in the consumer electronics sector and potential competitors in the auto sector."
Apple's autonomous vehicle programme is called Project Titan, but has been plagued with difficulties.
In particular, bringing workable autonomous driving products to market is proving harder, and likely to take longer, than developers of self-driving vehicle technology will admit. Uber is reportedly under pressure from its backers to sell-off its self-driving vehicle unit as losses mount up.
On top of that, Apple has struggled to ‘reinvent' the vehicle, throwing around ideas such as augmented reality displays instead of, or beamed onto, windscreens; motorised doors; and, interiors without steering wheels.
Like augmented reality, though, Apple will be late to market, trailing Tesla, which as struggled to profitably ramp-up production, as well as Dyson, which disclosed plans to release an electric vehicle in 2020. Major car producers, as well as car makers in China, are also all rushing to ramp up production of electric vehicles.
Indeed, earlier this year a former employee called Xiaolang Zhang was accused of stealing information about Apple's driverless car project to take Xiaopeng Motors, a Chinese autonomous vehicle start-up.
However, predicting future Apple technology releases is a notoriously difficult business, given the number of ideas that are considered and rejected by the computer and electronics giant.
These rejected ideas include the Apple TV, which the company came close to approving, but gave up on as it could not find a way to radically ‘reinvent' the product, nor persuade content providers to hand over a chunk of their revenue streams to Apple in return for featuring on Apple TV.
The last big Apple release was the iPad in 2010. But in recent years sales of both iPads and tablet computers more broadly have fallen as smartphones have got bigger. Apple, nevertheless, has continued to grow and recently became only the second company in the world to achieve a $1 trillion market valuation.
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