‘An incredible failure of leadership’
Apple’s ambitious car project is in danger of being cut, as hundreds of members of the team working on it have left or been reassigned, Mark Gurman and Alex Webb reported Monday at Bloomberg.
The key to the report is that Apple’s car team has been rudderless and has had issues with direction and internal strife.
“It was an incredible failure of leadership,” a source told Bloomberg.
In fact, the division, codenamed “Project Titan,” has reportedly been given a deadline in late 2017 under its new leadership before the company decides whether the project is working or worth pursuing further, though the company could decide to revisit building its own car if it gets mothballed.
The car didn’t have a clear direction for much of last year, the Bloomberg report said, with managers fighting battles over strategy disagreements — namely, whether to focus on hardware, one of Apple’s strengths, or to focus on self-driving software. That led to cuts, including more than 120 software engineers and several hundred hardware engineers.
Recently, Apple has more closely focused on building an autonomous driving system instead of a complete car, which gives the company the possibility of partnering with existing carmakers.
Steve Zadesky, the former head of Project Titan, was resassigned to a different position at Apple early this year. Taking over was Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering.
More recently, Apple hired Dan Dodge, who previously created QNX, an operating system frequently used in cars, which was bought by BlackBerry. He works with Bob Mansfield, a longtime Apple executive who had to be dragged out of retirement. He was the exec who told the Project Titan team a major shift in direction from a Tesla competitor to driverless-car software.
It’s hard to tell whether the issues are because Apple does not have the right leadership or whether its workers were asked to do something that is nearly impossible. Apple reportedly had trouble with assembling a supply chain for automotive parts the way it does for its computers.
When the car project was started in 2014, one aim was to help Apple retain key engineering talent who may have been more excited by a new project rather than shipping incremental improvements to existing products like the iPhone and the Mac. But if hardware engineers are leaving the company, or being reassigned, then Project Titan has already failed at one of its key objectives.
Apple has never publicly confirmed that is working on an electric, self-driving car. At Apple’s last shareholder meeting earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in response to a question about the project that “it’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while.”
Via Kif Leswing, Business Insider