Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster had been infamously predicting an Apple-branded HDTV set for years before eventually giving up on that dream. Last we heard from him was when he called for an S-upgrade to the Apple Watch in February 2016 (he may have gotten that one right; the timing, not so much).
More advanced CarPlay
Commenting on The Information’s recent report on Project Titan’s tentative 2019-2020 launch target internally postponed until 2021 amid technical issues and leadership problems, he said he believed we’d see some results out of the project before 2021.
We think Apple could unveil some of its learnings before 2021 as it continues to develop its own car. For example, autonomous driving software could come out earlier via an automotive partner or more advanced CarPlay features.
According to Bloomberg, Project Titan has shifted gear and is now about autonomous driving systems rather than actual vehicles. “The initiative is now prioritizing the development of an autonomous driving system, though it’s not abandoning efforts to design its own vehicle,” sources told the news organization.
The analyst went on to explain why Apple’s potential market opportunity in the automobile space could be “a true needle mover”:
In terms of the market, BMW might be the best comp for what Apple could do with the car in a wildly successful long-term scenario.
For context, BMW sold 1.9 million vehicles last year at an average selling price of $75,000, which works out to approximately $142.5 billion in average revenue.
Project Titan “a gigantic money pit”
While we’re at BMW, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in April 2015 that Apple and BMW had been running a secret vehicle research and development lab in the heart of Berlin.
Two days later, unnamed sources shot down the report, saying that the German car maker wasn’t interested in collaborating with Apple on Project Titan in the first place.
“Apple wants the car to be closely built into its own cloud software, while the German carmakers have made customer data protection a key element of their future strategy,” one of the sources reportedly said.
Here’s GM’s former vice chairman calling Project Titan “a gigantic money pit”.
Apple VR headset
For one, Munster does not buy the idea of an Apple-branded virtual-reality headset due to high computing requirements for standalone VR headsets. “It’s hard to see Apple developing a computer-powered high-end headset in the current market,” he said.
He’s adamant that the firm will instead open up the iPhone for third-parties to make authorized headsets by 2018, effectively creating a brand new virtual reality software platform from scratch.
A report by The Financial Times from January 2016 contradicts Munster’s thinking. According to the financial newspaper, Apple assembled a large team of virtual and augmented reality experts for a top secret virtual-reality headset project and had been building prototypes of possible configurations “for several months” at the time.
Apple’s boss Tim Cook in the past called virtual reality “really cool” and said cryptically that the technology, in his view, “has some interesting applications.”
Intel unveiled Project Alloy, its merged reality system, at IDF 2016.
Cook went on to confirm in a recent interview with The Washington Post that his company has been doing “a lot of things” in terms of augmented and virtual reality.
“I think augmented reality is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain,” he said.
What do you guys make of Munster’s latest predictions?
Top photo: AirVR by Metatecture, a Kickstarter project that leverages iOS Retina hardware already in millions of people’s hands.