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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) Car Investing

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted July 31, 2013

Steve Jobs always wanted to break into the car making industry. He loved cars, and it was his dream to design one. But the iCar never did come to light.

He regretted that to his dying days, but his successors are seeing that the apple of his eye will not be completely forgotten.

As if consumers weren’t already going crazy enough for their iPhones, by 2014, you will be able to choose from several vehicles with Apple’s iPhone functions built directly into the dashboard.

iphoneSure, it’s not an iCar, but it’s the next best thing.

The car’s dashboard will pair with the new Apple iOS 7 device to enable drivers to use functions like Siri – voice controls to help with navigation, texting, e-mails, and music – all in an easy and distraction-free interface that addresses the driver safety issue that has become a growing concern.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) already has the world’s largest market share of the tech industry, but as shares tumbled as much as 15 percent this year, many of us were thinking maybe it wasn’t the sure-fire stock it once was. But reeling off this latest announcement, Apple rose 1.2 percent yesterday and closed at $453.32 in New York.

Imagine for a minute that you have an iPhone 5 (if you don’t already). If your new car is equipped with Apple’s new iOS in the Car, you can connect to your iPhone and interact using a built-in display, something Apple is calling Siri Eyes Free – a fancy way of essentially controlling each function of the device through voice controls.

Those of you already familiar with Siri know that you can talk to her about most things. Now, with the upgraded iOS 7 features presented at Apple’s iOS 7 preview website, it looks like the sky’s the limit – and you can still have your hands at ten and two.

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook sums it up best, according to AppleInsider:

“It is a part of the ecosystem. And so just like the App Store is a key part of the ecosystem, and iTunes and all of our content is key, and the services we provide from messaging to Siri and so forth, having something in the automobile is very very important. It’s something that people want. And I think that Apple can do this in a unique way, and better than anyone else. And so it’s a key focus for us.”


While Steve Jobs may have had regrets about never making an iCar, Apple never showed much interest in the auto industry outside of providing technical information so drivers could connect to iPods and iPhones for music.

Until now. Now, Apple wants to be the first thing a driver sees when he gets in the driver seat, and it doesn’t appear that the company minds stepping on a few toes to do so.

But the car industry isn’t like your iPhone. It’s impossible to predict how difficult it will be to integrate an outside software system like iOS into a vehicle. There are extreme conditions to work through like temperatures, cabin noise, and functionality, and on top of that, it has to be able to last for the lifetime of the vehicle. Your iPhone isn’t built for 200,000 miles.

And it’s vying for a place already strongly secured by competitors like Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT), BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ: BBRY), and Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P).

Blackberry and Microsoft are the two main operating system software suppliers for automakers, and Pandora leads the field in streaming music service.

The trick for Apple is to get its iOS system so that the screen is already built into the car. This will separate it from the competition. For the consumer, Apple hopes it would be like falling in love all over again – the way millions did with their iPhones.

The Siri Eyes Free was introduced last summer with Apple’s iOS 6 release, but it will go a step further, as iOS 7 will be installed directly into the dash.

Like I said before, using an LED-illuminated control screen, the driver could use the phone, play music, map directions, text – the device can do it all, either through the Siri Eyes Free technology or a simple tap of the finger like with the iPhone or iPad.

And to give Pandora a run for its money, Apple will include an iTunes Radio streaming device.

Half of all music listened to takes place in an automobile, making it a $15 billion advertising market, according to Bloomberg, something Pandora has dominated with its more than 70 million listeners each month. The service will prove difficult to overcome, especially as Pandora is set to come pre-installed for one-third of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. this year.



But the Apple dashboard does sound mighty sweet. It’s already got me thinking about my next trade in.

Many iPhone users already use their smartphones for navigation purposes, so automakers are naturally drawn to the Apple technology.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) already has Siri built into its Chevrolet Spark and Sonic model cars. They use iOS 6 and have been met with lackluster reviews. But you can look at those models as basic prototypes. The problems: voice recognition, GPS, and overall functionality – the software simply wasn’t designed for a car.

Apple’s iOS 7 is designed to address those issues and be fully integrated into the usefulness of a vehicle. iOS 7 will be included with each and every model made by GM, Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC), Nissan Motor Co. (TYO: 7201), and Hyundai Motor Co. (KRX: 005380).

Icons that you are familiar with on you iPhone or iPad will be found in the center of your car now.

BMW (ORC: BAMXY); Daimler AG’s (OTC: DDAIF) Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and Jaguar; Volkswagon AG’s (OTC: VLKAY) Audi; Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM); and Chrysler Group LLC are all adding Siri Eyes Free to new model arrivals.

I think that ought to tell you something right there. Apple isn’t satisfied with already having the biggest slice of the pie. It’s hungry, and it wants more.


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