Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, Bloomberg:
Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project. […]
New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person.
Apple executives have given the car team a deadline of late next year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system and decide on a final direction, two of the people said. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment.
If Apple elects to just build the software platform, does that mean they license it to other car companies? That seems unlikely to me. More likely, if this report is accurate, would be a collaboration — or series of collaborations — that give Apple some control over the car itself, similar to their co-branded Watches.
A collaborative path still feels unlike Apple. But, perhaps due to the nature of a product like this, that may prove to be a good thing.
Update: A collaborative strategy might also make it easier to do multiple price points, particularly at the higher end. After the performance of the first-generation Apple Watch Edition, it might make more sense to work with an automotive brand already positioned to sell high-end cars.