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Tony Fadell discussed what an Apple car would look like with Steve Jobs back in 2008

A group portrait of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, with some of his executives who designed the iPhone. From left: Philip Schiller, iPod Boss Tony Fadell, Design Chief Jonathan Ive, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall, and Eddy Cue. Jobs announced the iPhone during a keynote presentation at the MacWorld conference in San Francisco. The iPhone is set to revolutionize mobile phone technology, combining the capabilities of a cell phone, an iPod, and an internet communications device with a revolutionary touch-screen design.

Tony Fadell, often called the “father of the iPod” and now CEO of Alphabet’s Nest, is on Bloomberg TV today to discuss his time at Apple, the future of mobility and his current effort in the connected home industry. During the interview, Fadell revealed that back in 2008, he had discussions with then Apple CEO Steve Jobs about what an ‘Apple car’ would look like and how the company could approach such a project… At the time, Fadell says the company had little time and resources to allocate to the project, but the discussion is now more relevant than ever with the growing rumors about the Cupertino-based company developing an electric car through “Project Titan“.

When asked about talking to Steve Jobs about building a car, Fadell said:

“We had a couple walks – and this was in 2008 – about if we were to build a car, what would we build? […] We would be looking at what would a dashboard be, what would seat be, how would you fuel it or power it, but at the end it was always like “we are so busy, we are so constraint” – you know – it would be great to do it, but we can’t.”

The executive followed up saying that at the time, they preferred focusing all their efforts toward the cellphone business and that several other potential products were considered, but eventually dropped by the company.

When talking about Apple’s possible entry in the transport industry, Fadell was optimistic about what the company could do for the industry:

“If you think about a car – what’s a car? – a car has batteries, it has a computer, it has a motor and it has a mechanical structure. If you look at an iPhone, it has all the same things. It even has a motor in it (probably referring to the Taptic engine). If you try to scale it up “oh my god, I can make a car with those same components”. There is some truth to that.”

“Some truth” is one way to put it. Of course he is right about both products having parallels, but comparing the “mechanical structure” of the iPhone with a car is arguably a stretch.

Fadell then emphasized that the “hard stuffs” will be about connectivity and mobility as a service. Something he thinks Apple and Google would have an advantage in because these features rely heavily on software.

You can watch the whole video here:

Top image via Fortune

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  1. Nick Donnelly - 7 years ago

    I guess you fired all your editors?!

  2. Scott (@ScooterComputer) - 7 years ago

    More fatal conceit from iPhone designers about what a car is. A car IS the mechanical structure. All the rest is gravy. But that mechanical chassis HAS TO WORK. It is both the most important component in the longevity of the device, for the very purpose of its existence, and it absolutely is the most important thing for the SAFETY of the users. Any designer who looks at a car as just a place to sit with a taptic engine and battery for “connectivity and mobility as a service” experience is not worthy of your attention.

  3. rnc - 7 years ago

    Someone tell Fadell that he’s now not on Apple.

  4. David Kaplan - 7 years ago

    This story is literally about nothing.

  5. pretsky - 7 years ago

    I’m against this entire venture.
    Apple has become so grossly and dangerously oversized.
    I will never buy a car made by a computer company and I will never buy or ride in is a self driving car.
    Enough is enough.

  6. iphone6splus - 7 years ago

    Steve Jobs faked his own death to secretly work on the Apple Car…

  7. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    Today I learned that the idea for an Apple vehicle is a few years older than previously thought. My life has changed as a result/

  8. yojimbo007 - 7 years ago

    Ummm. A few grains of salt ..Tony ?


Avatar for Fred Lambert Fred Lambert

Fred is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at Electrek. He sometimes contributes to 9to5mac and 9to5Google.