Apple has shifted gears to move its Project Titan car development away from producing an actual vehicle and instead towards self-driving technology. The company has also hired the former head of BlackBerry's automotive division.
Under the new leadership of Bob Mansfield, Project Titan has hired Dan Dodge, the founder and former chief executive of QNX, an operating system developer acquired by BlackBerry in 2010 and used for the infotainment in a variety of cars from Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen and others.
A person "familiar with the strategy" of Project Titan said the initiative has shifted its strategy towards developing autonomous car technology instead of an entire vehicle, according to Bloomberg, which has a strong track record of Apple leaks. However, the company has not fully abandoned plans to build a car, the source said, leaving the door open to partner with or even acquire a car manufacturer in the future.
It was originally understood that Project Titan was developing a car which would be electric, partly autonomous, and go on sale in either 2020 or 2021. Apple is believed to have been working on Project Titan since 2014 and has assigned 1,000 employees to it. The company has a policy or not commenting to the media on rumour, speculation or unannounced products.
Project Titan is proving difficult for Apple, with insiders claiming it has been delayed by multiple departures of staff, technical delays and confusion over what direction the project should take. It was reported just days ago that Project Titan was now being led by Mansfield, a former Apple executive who planned to retire several years ago but has remained at the company on a casual basis.
Chief executive Tim Cook said in a conference call to investors on 26 July: "The products that are in R&D, there is quite a bit of investment in there for products and services that are not currently shipping or derivations of what is currently shipping. There's a lot of stuff that we're doing beyond the current products."
Slowing iPhone sales and falling demand for Apple's biggest profit earner has forced the company to look elsewhere for a revenue stream. The company's spending on research and development grew by 25% in the last three months compared to 2015.