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Will Apple Introduce an iCar?

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Move over, Smart Car. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) may be in talks with automakers to develop an in-car infotainment system similar to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) SYNC, a popular add-on for some Ford (NYSE: F  ) vehicles.

How do we know? We don't, but a headhunter posting in the automotive section of LinkedIn's China edition says the Mac maker is looking for a quality engineer with "over 4 years mechanical engineering" experience -- something first noticed in Car News China,.

Car site Jalopnik speculates that Apple could be seeking someone to help manufacture a device designed to fit in a car dashboard. Emphasis on "could be." "This is nowhere near definitive proof that Apple is entering the space, but it's certainly a big clue that they might be," writer Matt Hardigree explains in the piece.

He's right, but the timing is incredibly interesting. Not only has Ford put SYNC into more than 4 million cars on the road, but also last month chip giant and Apple partner Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) last month launched a $100 million Connected Car Fund through its Intel Capital subsidiary.

Coincidence? Maybe, but to me it seems much more likely that Apple's treasure hoard is being spent on reinventing the car interior. Everything from networking to infotainment to advanced navigation and speech-activated functionality has to be on the table. Apple has plenty to contribute with iTunes and its popular Siri voice-recognition technology.

Go ahead and tell me I'm wrong in the comments box below if you'd like. Or if you're curious about how chips, networks, and other advanced technology are remaking how and where we consume media, download The Motley Fool's special report on the rise of mobile computing: "The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution." The research is free, but only for a limited time. Get your copy now.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings, and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Ford, Intel, LinkedIn, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Intel, Ford, Microsoft, and LinkedIn, creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple, and creating a synthetic long position in Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (6)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 3:18 PM, dknuth1 wrote:

    That would be an amazing concept, what if aapl filled the tesla with all the goodies wealthy eco-nerds love?

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 3:43 PM, ghenry232 wrote:

    Yup. I mentioned to a few friends a couple months ago that I thought this was very likely. They have all the pieces so it's mostly just a lateral shift into a new market using existing technologies. And I've worked in a dealership - those built-in GPS/etc systems can cost $2k or more extra! Plenty of room to work with for Apple's formula of a premium product yielding high profit margins. Heck, won't be hard for them... the current in-console systems are total crap.

    Just for the love of God, Apple.... no angry birds on a 10" iPad mounted in the middle of the steering wheel, okay? Tongue firmly in cheek... :)

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 4:32 PM, accelerando wrote:

    If they do this it will be sort of like iTV -- a hobby for now. In four or five years they, perhaps, no foolin, might start actually making cars -- why not? They can buy a small car company (like GM) for chump change. Then they can do to the automotive industry what they have done to computers, music, phones and soon TV. Have you shopped for a new car lately? I am in the process. What bloated, confusing, absurdly complex and ineffective piles of junk!!! The best cars where probably made by the Japanese in the mid-late nineties and it has been all downhill since. Imagine a real iCar. They'd probably capture half the global market in two years. Who says apple will run out of worlds to conquer?

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 4:38 PM, artlaz wrote:

    You're right, IMO. Makes total sense - no one can do it better.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 4:42 PM, daveshouston wrote:

    I certainly think it makes a lot of sense.

    The iPad has many apps and features that are useful now in a vehicle. However, it could be much better with hardware integration.

    For example, some functions should be locked out while the car is moving for safety reasons. Front and rear vehicle cameras could be attached to the iPad to aid in parallel parking, backing up, and safety. Automobile status info could be displayed.

    When I bought my 2001 BMW 530i, it came with a state of the art sound system and electronic extras. Everything was hard-wired into the car. Upgrading isn't very easy or even possible so what was state of the art then, is over the hill now. It could be possible to design a car so that the iPad was a module that could be replaced later on.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 4:55 PM, ravens9111 wrote:

    I think that is plausible. I must add that I think it could be more than that. If Google is experimenting with the first "unmanned car", then why can't Apple get in on that too? I don't know why a mechanical engineer would be needed to create a product similar to Microsoft's MyTouch.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 5:04 PM, Kisaralik wrote:

    I have Miscrosoft's SYNC in my Ford F350 (powerstroke diesel). It's a complete piece of shite. I'm tempted to link to the ETade baby's "surprised" face. I don't even use it. (Love the truck, though.) Apple could do better in their sleep.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 7:25 PM, Microwave52 wrote:

    I have no idea what the margins are for car stereos, but this does seem to be a fractured market. Apple has an item which connects an iPod to a car stereo, I use it all the time. So an iCarstereo (Apples In Stereo?) could happen.

    I can't see Apple buying a car company, they're not in the automotive biz. Besides, becoming associated with another brand could harm the Apple image, especially if the automotive industry tanks again and requires another bailout.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 7:38 PM, macgregor54 wrote:

    I presume you know that mechanical engineers also do things like design metal enclosures for iPads? You have been in an actual engineering office before, right? There are probably several hundred, of not a few thousand ME's working for Apple. Is this news? Extrapolating this to an iCar is a stretch.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2012, at 1:35 AM, bbrriilliiaanntt wrote:

    You mean an ipad hooked up to your car speakers utilizing Siri for navigation, music, etc. already have it setup in my truck with a telescoping, flexible mount, works great!

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2012, at 11:30 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    And just like that, Apple strikes a deal with Mercedes-Benz:

    FWIW and Foolish best,



    Tim Beyers

    TMFMileHigh, Motley Fool Rule Breakers Analyst


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