Significant Contribution

In my quoting of the “Cook Doctrine” I cited the primary criteria for Apple to enter a new market:

We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.

These criteria, often repeated, were certainly in force when Apple chose to enter the watch market. Apple has sought and achieved a significant market share and did so while owning and controlling the primary technologies behind the product.

I now turn to the significant contribution criterion to study the possibility of Apple’s entry into the car industry.[1]

The significance test shifts the speculation from whether Apple would build a car, to how many cars is could build. Making a few cars is easy (see first commandment of The Entrant’s Guide to the Automotive Industry). Making lots of cars is hard and hence significance in the automotive market (as in watches and phones) means achieving some degree of adoption, a higher degree of usage and a very high degree of profitability.

So what does being significant in the car business mean? Does it mean becoming the next Tesla? The next BYD or the next VW? How quickly?

Fortunately, we have something to compare an Apple entry to. Apple has made a “significant” market entry in phones and others have made entries in cars. If we contrast the rate of growth of Tesla, EVs, and Hybrids[2] to the rate of growth of iPhones in their respective US markets, we obtain a test of significance:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 12.38.39 PM

The graph shows the percent of sales for the alternative car technologies (and Tesla) vs. the percent of US phone users using iPhones (comScore). Here are the conclusions:

  • Hybrid cars were introduced in 2000 in the US. They managed to gain 2.5% within 8 years but have not increased to a consistently higher level since.
  • Electric vehicle sales re-sarted in earnest in 2008 and have gained 0.4% share in eight years. They are still growing, partly helped by significant federal and state subsidies.
  • Between sales start in 2008 and 2015 Tesla achieved 0.15% share.
  • The iPhone ushered in a new paradigm within the phone market[3] in mid 2007. In the time since, Apple achieved the equivalent of about 35% share of unit sales.[4]
  • Between 2002 and 2015 the share of smartphones as a percent of all phones reached over 80%.

To summarize, the range for entrant technology share capture spans between 0.4% (EVs between 2008 and 2015), 2.4% (Hybrids between 2000 and 2015) and 80% (Smartphones between 2002 and 2015).

Within a similar time frame, the range for entrant company share capture spanned between 0.15% (Tesla as percent of US car market) and 35% (Apple iPhone percent of US phone market).[5]

The differences thus span two orders of magnitude (>100x). Put another way, if Tesla’s car entry was equivalent to Apple’s iPhone entry they would have delivered about 5.5 million cars rather than the 50.5k they delivered in 2015.

This wide gap in the impact of entry in the two markets has much to do with how modular are the systems being engaged by the entrants. An electric automotive system requires new infrastructure, new user behavior, and, in the case of Tesla, new distribution network and new post-sales support network. Offsetting this partially is a government subsidy.

In contrast, the smartphone communications and computing system leveraged existing infrastructure[6], consistent behavior, at least initially, and the same distribution and support network. In addition, smartphones benefited from significant hardware and software and services ecosystems which encouraged third parties to add value to the system.

The difference in collaborative development and conforming user experiences (i.e. modularity) between the two innovations allowed the speed of change to be two orders of magnitude faster. The result is what I would consider significance for the iPhone vs. insignificance for electric vehicles to date.

Which leads us back to the question of why Apple would enter this market. If the absence of modularity prevents rapid change, that implies Apple cannot achieve any significant impact from entry.

We could ask the question differently: If they do enter, they could achieve significance only if they change the degree of modularity in the system. Think of it as allowing infrastructure leverage, consistent user behavior, wide distribution, wide support network, ecosystems, and component architecture; allowing rapid scale production and lower costs, etc.

Therefore the only way that Apple could justify entry would be if they “rationalized” the system into a sufficiently modular alternative. Only if we assume that change is possible could we then target share above the 0.1% insignificant change that has been demonstrated. They might even perhaps aim at 1% impact within a few years of entry. 1% was the iPhone target within the first full year of sales.

If system-wide change could be brought about and made uniquely (through some form of sustainable asymmetry) then the foreseeable share possibility quickly reaches the 10% range.

The last time that happened was when Toyota changed the way cars are designed and built.[7]

  1. Control of the primary technologies behind the product is a topic for another post. []
  2. Of which Toyota has 70% to 80% share []
  3. Incidentally the number of phones in use and cars in use in the US is comparable. []
  4. Significantly more in terms of sales value and over 90% of profitability. []
  5. Toyota’s capture of 2% of the market with hybrids may or may not be considered entrant–I chose to consider Toyota an incumbent which took share from others with the Prius []
  6. And vice-versa []
  7. VW before Toyota and GM before VW. Incidentally Toyota, GM and VW are now nearly tied as the top three automakers globally. []
  • Ian Ollmann

    “If the absence of modularity prevents rapid chance…”


  • Kent Hoskin

    Very interested in your Note 7 – the idea that changing the way cars are designed and built has positioned the top 3 automakers …. (can you point me to further readings?)

    Would this idea of the design/production apparatus apply to apple or google ?

    • The automobile entered mass adoption due to the introduction of the Ford production system. It was superseded in the US by the GM production system which though model-year changes allowed GM to match and then overtake the Ford near-monopoly. The VW system was a variation of the Ford system with the benefit of attacking at the low end (for developed markets) and non-consumption in emerging markets. The Toyota production system allowed more flexible and higher quality output while shrinking the “platform” lifespan. All meaningful innovation in the automotive industry since its inception has been through the development of production systems. No other source of innovation has caused meaningful change. The industry is completely driven by and controlled and regulated by production systems. The dealer network, the regulatory regime, the rate of change, the modularity level, the approach to technology change, the advertising, the brands, the cross-ownership, the approach to fuels are all derived from the production system. I’ve been discussing this for the last three years on Asymcar.

  • Jonathan Sugai

    Hmm… what do you think about Apple entering because they believe they are able to significantly transform and elevate the ownership experience (shopping, purchasing/leasing, maintenance, transition to new model) which is now more practical and possible with electric drivetrain & over the air software updates with an iOS based hardware/software architecture?

    • I’m all for it. But if that’s the only change I don’t expect it to be rapid. We would have to measure “significant change” in decades not years. Better experience should be a consequence of deeper changes in production and a re-design of the modular boundaries.

  • I would expect Apple to follow a similar strategy to the one they used with the iPhone by partnering with an existing dealership to solve the storefront, discovery, inventory problem. Everything else is logistics.

  • Walter Milliken

    A couple of observations:

    1) I expect the rate of adoption, at least for the existing consumption case, is strongly tied to the lifetime of the product. What happens when you scale the adoption rate of the graphs by relative product lifespan? I’m guessing this is a factor of five between cell phones (approx 2yrs) and cars (approx 10yrs?). Which doesn’t explain the two orders of magnitude, but would close the gap substantially. Of course, in the non-consumption adoption case, this doesn’t apply, since the non-consumer doesn’t have to justify getting rid of something that still has value.

    2) It seems to me that Apple has been trending *away* from modularity in recent years. There doesn’t seem to be much sign of modularity in the Apple Watch, for instance, except maybe in the distribution network. Many commentators seem to highlight the user experience difference from both normal watches and the iPhone. It seems to be a new experience, not one that leverages much from existing knowledge or systems.

    Stray random thought: I wonder if it isn’t “modularity” that matters as much as “efficiency of design and adoption”. Modularity can be a shortcut to both of those, but maybe not the best one? It takes more up-front thought and effort to do a better job than leveraging modularity, but if Apple is willing — and able to successfully make — that effort, taking on the additional design cost and the risk of adopting a new interaction model….

    • In my study of adoptions I did not observe lifetime of the product having an effect on the rate of adoption. The adoptions I looked at are:
      Primary School Enrollment
      Rail (track)
      Steam Ship (tons)
      Running Water
      Flush Toilet
      Electrification of Electrical Machinery Manufacturing
      Electrification of Printing
      Electrification of Tobacco Products Manufacturing
      Electrification of Non-Electric Machinery Manufacturing
      Electrification of Apparel Manufacturing
      Electrification of Fabricated Metals Manufacturing
      Electrification of Transport Equipment Manufacturing
      Electrification of Leather Product Manufacturing
      Electrification of Chemicals Manufacturing
      Electrification of Instruments and Misc Manufacturing
      Electrification of Rubber Manufacturing
      Electrification of Petroleum Products Manufacturing
      Electrification of Stone, Clay, Glass Manufacturing
      Electrification of Primary Metals Manufacturing
      Electrification of Furniture Manufacturing
      Electrification of Textile Manufacturing
      Electrification of Beverages Manufacturing
      Electrification of Food Manufacturing
      Postal System
      Electrification of Paper Manufacturing
      Electric power
      Secondary School Enrollment
      Film Camera
      Electrification of Lumber Manufacturing
      ICE Automobile
      Vacuum Cleaner
      Central Heating
      Tractor (Gasoline)
      Washing Machine
      Household Refrigerator
      Commercial Vehicles
      U.S. Natural Gas Marketed Production (MMcf)
      Diesel Locomotives
      Automatic Transmission
      Power Steering
      Clothes Dryer
      Home Air Conditioning
      Jet Transatlantic Passenger Crossings
      Air Travel
      Blast Oxygen Furnace
      Automobile Air Conditioning
      Synthetic (non‐cellulosic) fibers
      Electric Arc Furnace (mini mill)
      Color TV
      Credit Card
      Shipping Container Port Infrastructure
      Disc Brakes
      Cable TV
      Radial Tires
      Electronic Ignition
      Video Game Console
      Debit Cards
      Microcomputer (PC)
      MRI Units
      NOx Pollution Controls (Boilers)
      Chlorine-Free Paper Production
      Retail Sites Accepting Credit Cards
      Cellular Phone
      RTGS Adoption
      Digital Camera
      MP3 Player
      Social Media
      Crude Oil : Production : Tight Oil + CO2 EOR
      Natural Gas Dry Production : Tight gas
      Video Calling
      Smart Meters
      eBook Reader
      Wearable computers
      Wind Farming
      Grid Energy Storage
      Home Power Storage
      Industrial 3D Printing
      Fuel Cell Car
      Hybrid car
      Electric Car
      Autonomous Car
      Photovoltaic Power

      • Don D.

        Fascinating – quite a body of work. Have you published any of these analyses which we could review?

    • Regarding Apple, the measurement of modularity I use is a set of 10 conditions, divided into two categories titled Conformability and Collaboration. The conditions are:

      Conformability 1: Purchase independence,
      Conformability 2: Assistance independence
      Conformability 3: Space minimizing
      Conformability 4: Time independence
      Conformability 5: New behavior independence

      Leverage 1: Ecosystem/Content
      Leverage 2: Network Effects
      Leverage 3: Distribution
      Leverage 4: Supplier Component Architecture
      Leverage 5: Existing Underlying Stack / Infrastructure

      When rapidly growing Apple products are measured on these conditions they tend to be highly modular.

      What is usually cited as modularity is the Supplier component architecture (Leverage 4). However even in this case, Apple is highly modular depending on a large and increasing number of suppliers.

      • Kizedek

        “What is usually cited as modularity is the Supplier component architecture (Leverage 4). However even in this case, Apple is highly modular depending on a large and increasing number of suppliers.”

        And not just developing stable of alternate suppliers, but re-use of components across the multiple models of iWatch. There is a degree of obvious component modularity between iWatch models (even to Walter Milliken, I would imagine) in that the Apple re-uses case design (albeit with different materials), watch strap system, SoC, sensors, software, etc. In contrast to Walter, I would have looked at the Watch and rather than saying there is no sign of it, I would have said, “wow, how modular is that?”

  • Christian Peel

    Nice article. Any thoughts on Apple making a motorcycle or bicycle? I.e. a low-end car?

  • Tim W.

    One aspect I think this article didn’t put into the equation, is that vehicles are shifting both to “electric” AND to “autonomous”. Once enough vehicles have become autonomous, will people even still be allowed to drive a car? And if they’re not allowed to drive, does it still make sense to OWN a car? How does Apple operate in a market that doesn’t rely on consumer ownership? Will there still be a “car” market, or will we only speak of a “transportation” market, Uber style?

    • I will put it the equation if you can offer the data. When and how many autonomous vehicles, and what business model they will be produced under and by whom (and where if possible). Yearly resolution is enough.

      • handleym

        I think Tim W raises one of three points.

        – An iPhone (and similarly for things like TV or internet) gives you a whole lot of new functionality that you didn’t have before. A hybrid/EV may give you a cheaper ride (amortized over ten years, subject to how much you drive, etc etc) but it doesn’t give you new functionality. Autonomous vehicles DO, so I would expect them to have a substantially faster uptake. (Except that this may well be modulated by legal and political issues, so that even after they are, in some sense, good to go, it may be 15 years before the entire US is capable of allowing them to go.)

        – There is a “natural lifespan” issue that I think also modulates the shape of these curves. PCs, for example, in addition to their doubling in performance every two years or so back in their glory days, also simply died frequently. Hard drives had a mean life of about 3 years, fans frequently died, occasionally lousy components (remember the bad electrolytic capacitors of the early 2000s?) would kill the motherboard.
        We expect cars to have a natural lifespan of 15 to 20 years or so, and if we have particular reasons to like a car we may push the lifespan beyond that (eg because it’s just easier to spend $500 in repairs each year than go through the hassle and lottery of buying another one, especially if you buy second hand).

        – There is a cost issue. A phone (even a tricked out iPhone 6S+) is not THAT expensive for a large number of people — and you know that you can sell it fairly easily if you have to, and get much of the price back. Buying new cars involves a whole new level of money, 10x or more, and a substantially higher level of hassle, both on the buying side and on the selling side if you need to sell in a hurry because your financial circumstances change.

        Of course these only explain the different shapes of the iPhone vs EV curves; they don’t change the point that this would not be a business Apple would want to get into if they wanted some sort of “1% of the US market in one year, 20% of the world installed base in 10 years” uptake. The question then, is, WOULD those be their goals? Maybe they’d see this as an Apple TV “hobby” business, in the sense that it would be a slow burner for many years. If they could swing a deal whereby BMW for example are acting as contract manufacturer, maybe this could be made to break even, and as long as it breaks even while it slowly grows, that’s good enough?

    • Shawn Dehkhodaei

      There will always exist a car market or transportation market …. somebody somewhere is paying for it. The form of payment and ownership will change, but SOMEONE is paying at all times. If the government is paying, it means the tax payer is paying, which really means the consumer is paying. Think about public transportation and buses … I can’t imagine bus manufacturers are non-profit. Sure, consumers don’t buy buses, but SOMEONE is using tax dollars to buy buses.

      Another analogy is the “education” market; there are public and private schools. But the seemingly “free” or “inexpensive” public schools are still funded by the tax payer. The “transportation” market would be the same.

      • Tim W.

        There’s no reason why “public” and “private” transportation can’t co-exist, both with paying customers as a business model, and the public service possibly being subsidized with tax payer money. The problem for current public transportation systems is that they risk to be “out-innovated” by private transportation services. Again: Uber. And automonous vehicles. Why would you want to take any combination of bus/train/tram/subway, with all the waiting times in-between, to reach your destination when you can call a vehicle on-demand to get you from your home to your destination?

        I’m not a data analyst (which Horace is admirably good at) or a system engineer. I’m just a UX designer trying to see the “consumer benefit” side of things.

    • Fran_Kostella

      I think things are slowly shifting to electric but the numbers are still small. And assistive technologies look likely to be common over the next decade or so. But I have yet to see anyone make a credible case for fully autonomous vehicles on public roads in the current era. It is still in the “electricity too cheap to meter” PR phase. I recall hearing, when I was a child in the 60s, about how we’d have fusion reactors in 20 years, a claim repeated continuously until the 90s when the estimate was increased to 30 years, which still held the last time I bothered looking into it.

      Clearly, a lot of people want it to happen, just as a lot of people wanted cheap fusion energy. The question is, will it and how and when. Maybe I’m turning into a cranky old engineer, but I’ve worked on a lot of tech and the easiest thing to do is to fool yourself into thinking that you can easily tame complexity before you confront it in depth. This looks like one of those problems, to me at least.

      On the other hand, real genius is the ability to make breakthroughs in areas that are thought to be impossible, so maybe it will happen, and quickly. I’d love to see it. Haven’t seen any signs of that yet, so far.

      • Tim W.

        Well, for automobiles it seems it took only one smart manufacturer to start mass production (Ford) for it to take off. Before that: lots and lots of independent but small-scale efforts. Same for autonomous vehicles: you see initiatives popping up all over the place, ranging from “adaptive cruise control” and “assistive breaking” to Volvo’s IntelliSafe and then Tesla and naturally Google.

        But I would bet on Uber to become the new Ford. They certainly have the “integration” incentive. Currently it’s the taxi drivers that are protesting worldwide, but I’m convinced that public transportation companies are Uber’s ultimate target, not taxi drivers.

      • Fran_Kostella

        What I or any other consumer wants is meaningless if nobody can deliver the product. And I’m not suffering from a lack of ability to imagine how nice the tech could be in many ways. I lack a technical description of how such a goal is going to be achieved. You know, the part that has to be done before any of the good things you mention can actually happen. ALL technical work requires a blueprint for what the system will be and responsible parties have to sign off on spending the money. I just don’t see such a thing existing, anywhere.

        Tech assist for drivers has been around for decades and will surely improve, but that is a far cry from a self-driving car. It is easy to convince yourself that tech development is simply an linear additive process, just add technical people and money and your problems go away. But this has been known to be generally false all through my lifetime, and I bet we’d find evidence going way back through the centuries if we dug into tech history.

        Any number of initiatives means very little if none of them can deliver. My reason for raising the issues around nuclear fusion is to point out that sometimes the more you work on a problem the more you realize how much harder the problem is to solve that you assumed. In that case the estimated time to complete the project is *steadily increasing* even though billions and billions have been spent on initiatives throughout the world.

        Ever since the DARPA challenge, I’ve been hearing the estimate for self driving cars to be something like 5-10 years away, and that was about 15 years ago. So the only thing I will find convincing is a technical blueprint of how such a system is going to be implemented. An initiative is just taking a swing at a problem to see what happens. A funded plan that has a story associated with all the known risks and problems means something real is happening.

        If you dig into the current state of things it doesn’t seem like any of then can possibly scale up to a real system. For example, Google’s system is built around computer modeling a number of local roads and driving those over and over and over. The models need to be kept up and a sensor system has to deal with real world changes on the fly. So it seems that Google is going to have a near realtime system that keeps a model of everywhere a car can drive. In the US we have over 4 million miles of roads, all of it under constant flux, so that needs to be dealt with! I’m not convinced anyone can do that now or realistically plan for it happening in five years.

        So, given the mind boggling size of the problem and the cost, mix in Google’s seeming lack of ability to deliver consumer products, and I don’t see the financial payoff for Google. This is a cheap PR program to generate positive press for them and probably feed results into their internal research, but I don’t see a Google product ever appearing.

        If what I posit is correct, and Google is at the top of companies that like to do crazy moonshot projects, who else will do it? I can’t see Apple endangering their cash hoard, which enables so much of their ability to control their destiny.

        And Uber? It is worth looking into the last few generations of the taxi business to see how Uber is just repeating the same pattern of tension between management control, regulation and forcing drivers to bear the cost of the business. This story tends to end up in the same place every time. I wouldn’t put them in league of Ford just quite yet.

      • Tim W.

        I believe Google’s “moonshot” project here is TensorFlow, the artificial intelligence engine they just open sourced. Their goal is to own the data, not the consumer product. The question is: who will run with it first and best once it reaches “good enough” status? Uber just seems like a likely candidate at that point.

      • Fran_Kostella

        I think you’re overlooking the fact that we currently have many millions of cars that don’t communicate with Google’s systems and have no incentive to do so in order to make this kind of system work. If you could eliminate all of the existing manually driven cars, building an automated system would not only be significantly easier, but would make the solution easier. However, there is no way to make that problem go away, so discussing it as if it could be eliminated is a red herring.

        You first have to traverse the chasm of getting to a fully automated system in order to reap the benefits. You cannot mandate it by fiat because there is no one body responsible for the whole system, and congress is nowhere near likely to legislate such a thing, and existing commercial interests that will lose funding will not hesitate to fight in court for decades.

        Your claim that one day manual driving will not be permitted is also a red herring. It is a nice rhetorical flourish to turn the problem on its head and pretend that such a thing is possible, but it is essentially meaningless since you have to solve the problem of getting there first. We cannot even deal with gun issues in the US and suddenly we’re going to mandate everyone buy a new car? I don’t see that happening any time soon. Ever, actually.

        So, back to the question of “unsolvable problems”. The problems might be solvable, but designing such systems doesn’t seem to have been done yet, that I’ve heard about, so I don’t have any basis for assuming they have good solutions. They seem simple before you start addressing all of the specific details, but I don’t believe anyone has made such things public because it is a significantly sized problem. So, a bit of off the cuff reasoning might help.

        Posit that we want a system that has a precise understanding of road terrains for a mile around each vehicle to permit adjusting at higher speeds. I wildly guess that 5% of all roads at a time need up to date monitoring, so we need to monitor about 200,000 miles of road. What level of detail do you need? Everything golfball sized and larger? A grid covering those roads would be 64,000 * 200,000 = 12,800,000,000 inches of length. Assume a two lane road of 22 feet, plus equivalent shoulder and some safe zone. I’d want a lot more, but assume that far to the sides we can use a much larger grid size. I mean that I’d like to know that a rock slide is occurring before it hits the road. But ignore that, Just use 44 feet to represent plus road width plus padding, so 44 feet = 528 inches. 528 * 12,800,000,000 = 6,758,400,000,000 square inches. We can round it to 6.7 trillion square inches to monitor at that grid size.

        Monitoring will often show a single vehicle on an empty stretch. But the last time I drove around NYC from central PA to CT I drove about 150 miles of solid traffic at 70 MPH, with a car-length or so between each car. Consider that an upper bound, essentially filling each grid spot constantly, perhaps in the sub-second time interval? But wait, I think you’d want to keep everything roughly up to date and just check for new info? How are we going to monitor? Satellites? No, the coverage space is massive, you need to put something on or near the road. How far apart? 4 million miles of road, 64 per mile leaves them about 1000 inches apart, so we need 256 million sensors, they all need to have power and communicate to servers.

        OK, now you need to gather all of that data, correlate it and organize it, relate it to history and assign it to interested listening systems. I’m sure that the builders would create software objects to simplify this massive amount of data. However, it won’t be like spidering the web since we will need realtime or near realtime data feeds for the vehicles, failing to spider a site can be tolerated, but failing to monitor a road could be fatal. Remember, there are life or death issues at play here, so this needs to be a highly tested systems that has intelligent failovers and cannot make mistakes that mess up reasonable road usage like commercial deliveries.

        Consider that if a system like this is fielded, how long will it take for manual drivers to realize that they can manipulate autonomous vehicles by driving in certain ways? Want to merge into a different lane, hell, just pull over because the vehicle will not allow a collision, so it is going to let everyone in who is bold enough to force the issue. Oh, I’m sure there are lots of things that will occur socially to take advantage of the system. Imagine teenage boys who learn how to make scripts run on mom’s van!

        And this raises the issue of how vehicles will be instructed to drive and how they will adapt to any of many thousands of use cases. I’m sure researchers are looking at these things, and plenty of things I cannot yet imaging. My goal is just to lay out a cartoon version of the problem in order to think about how big a problem it is. This is a massive engineering undertaking, I don’t know of existing systems that reach this scale. This is going to be daunting, even for Google.

        So, do I think this is a solvable problem? Hmmm, not entirely sure, my intuition says it should be, but my hard-core engineering and project funding parts say that it is well beyond the moon shot range. In a moonshot you have some way to control variables to your advantage, this looks to have so many complexities as to be a moonshot squared or cubed. What is Google’s payoff for this? Frankly, I’m not seeing it.

      • Tim W.

        Very thoughtful reply. As I’ve said below, I’m not an engineer but I’m sure you’ve touched upon many of the details that hundreds of smart people are trying to crack right now.

        As for the regulatory concerns: just like when the upcoming automobile had to share the road with older and slower vehicle types, I think society will just find its way with regulators scrambling to keep up. As in: there will be no “government mandate”, just evolution.

      • Fran_Kostella

        I like your aspiration thinking on the topic, and I agree with some of the conclusions about the many social goods that can flow from that change. But my experience with companies is that they need to have profit and I have yet to figure where that is in this case. Massive effort and cost to upgrade and inexpensive existing solutions that are familiar to all. Where is the incentive? Personally, if we are spending tons of tax money to upgrade, I’d find a sizable upgrade to the existing public transport system a better solution for me and many underserved citizens. Self-driving cars seem a solution for the upper 5% only.

        As for regulation, that is still quite fuzzy. I can’t think of a corresponding situation where a regulated area, like road use, is to be re-regulated to allow autonomous machines to supplant human operators. It is new territory and I suspect that the majority of regulators are going to be cautious. Just because Uber blithely ignores the law doesn’t mean they always will, we’ve already seen them fail utterly in Germany. So, regarding regulatory issues, I doubt the change from human to self-driving machine is going to be identical to the change from taxi to Uber.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        “moonshot” is an interesting metaphor !

        Ounce long ago we landed on the moon, with great excitement about a new era in space travel, but progress in space travel has been painfully slow ever since.

        It is easy to underestimate cost and complexity but I’m certainly with you on the excitement about the possibilities this time around.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Yup !
        It is an organic level problem akin to the complexity of the human nervous system.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        The devil is in the transition timing/costs details !

        You are imagining a smooth analogue transition/costs to an essentially digital swap-out-requirement problem !

    • BMc

      Agree that autonomous will be a hugely disruptive, new capability. However, I believe the legal and regulatory hurdles for any broad adoption are significant, and certainly will not be addressed before the rumoured timeframe of Apple’s “Titan” project (e.g. a car product by 2020). Thus Apple’s entry has to have features / experience to be successful, other than (full) autonomous.

  • Dimitar Mirchev

    This can be applied to roof PV – like smartphones they have infrastructure that they can use.

  • How does entry price affect your results? Tesla has a very low % market share, but it’s a luxury valued entrant. BMW only has a 2+% market share in the US. If Apple were to create a vehicle with a mid-range price tag (~$35k like the target for the Tesla Model III), is it then better positioned to enter the market?

    There are two ways to enter the market. Tesla used premium priced vehicles to fund advances in technology to allow development of mid-range vehicles. Back in the day, Honda (and copied by Hyundai) entered the US market with a base level vehicle introducing higher quality vehicles in the years after their entry.

    Would the iPad have been as successful if it was introduced at the rumored/expected price tag of $1k? Seems Apple changed course a bit after the iPhone introduction of $699.

    • Price reduction is a result of increasing modularity. Don’t look to price for causality. Look to what causes prices to be what they are.

      • handleym

        Do you believe “increasing modularity” and “more manufacturing” can SUBSTANTIALLY decrease the cost of the batteries (which seems to the primary issue)?
        I honestly don’t know. But I think we have to be careful not to imagine that EVERYTHING is subject to some sort of Moore’s law or even Henderson’s law, especially if the primary drivers of battery cost are things like mining costs and energy inputs.

      • Yes.

  • Walt French

    I agree that full adoption of new auto tech will work best with a significantly expanded/different infrastructure.

    But as you know, today’s EVs rely mostly on private infrastructure changes, while taking normal use of public infrastructure. With most usage clearly segmented as to intra- and inter-city travel, and especially given the prevalence of two-car households or households that use public transit for one mode or another, the market can expand dramatically with little change—perhaps, a somewhat-higher battery capacity at a not-too-high cost.

    And while EVs are doing just fine (not) atop the existing infrastructure, it’s hard to say today’s vehicles are being held back by a shortage of some magic bullet of tram wires, induction energy or recharging at every parking place.

    Today’s EVs are in fact more like the early iPhones than you suggest. AT&T’s EDGE network was often overwhelmed by the small number of early iPhones; service quality, data speed & user capacity were all severely limited during the early 5 years or so. Clearly, private infrastructure investment would attract customers and prevent defections, so those investments were made.

    There is a much more limited opportunity for private road-system investments to support as rapid an expansion as the iPhone enjoyed—fortunately, there aren’t highways set aside just for Verizon customers, right next to the AT&T ones.

    But this is very different than saying it can’t happen; merely it signals that it hasn’t. I personally think any serious disruption of the existing “personal transportation” market will depend on some quasi-public infrastructure to smooth autonomous vehicles’ ability to interpret their surroundings with high accuracy. That system might be beacons that report location to the inch for enhanced lane selection, peer-to-peer networks to report cars’ lane locations, speeds and conditions ahead (à la Waze), or simply an enhancement of today’s Google & Apple Maps, which seem to be getting stronger thanks to Apple tracking location info even when the user isn’t using Maps.

    Due to liability and individual-vs-state issues, every individual vehicle will have to be truly autonomous (human or machine controlling), but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from some genius tech like GPS, paid for entirely by your tax dollars.

    • Hi Walt,

      I think any change in transportation infrastructure in this context refers to efforts towards eliminating alternative fuel-related anxieties, not autonomous vehicle-related infrastructure changes.

      If we Range anxiety is an obvious example. Creating an ecosystem, i’m thinking the Supercharger network idea taken to the extreme, that eliminates EV adoption friction – perceived or real – would be necessary in the near-term.

      This isn’t my sport, but the way I see it fully autonomous-vehicles are analogous to flying cars. Ideas that look attractive and inevitable on paper, but these ideas also over serve the users’s needs and underestimate the external requirements necessary for mass adoption.

      The path of least practical resistance in the context of transportation infrastructure is driver-assisted technologies. These, by and large, will not and do not require wholesale infrastructure changes; the driver-assist paradigm can and does solve many of the ugly realities surrounding personal transportation in the immediate term. Think plug and play.

    • mattack

      Today’s EVs *are* doing fine. My smart electric has one of the lowest ranges of the mass market EVs, but it is over double the average commute in a day.

    • Fran_Kostella

      Hi Walt,

      Last year I got interested in a related topic and did a little off-the-cuff web research about the public road in the US. This may be off by an order of magnitude plus a bit, so be warned that this is all wild estimation.

      The US has over 4 million miles of paved roads, 170 thousand of them being highways, according to Wolfram Alpha. Two lane roads cost over $120 thousand per mile to pave, four lane roads cost over $500 thousand per mile to pave, according to some Ohio DOT documents from the last decade, I think these costs could vary a great deal depending on context. If you multiply these out you get 550 billion dollars to pave all of those roads, and we do know that costs do not generally decrease in the road construction business. And we also know that the political climate for funding public infrastructure is nightmarish, and increasing funding in this area is highly unlikely in the current congress, which seems to believe that any increase in funding for the public is anathema.

      Roads are a slow and expensive technology that take place in the decade to half-century time frame. Roads are not controlled by a handful of players as the wireless networks seem to be, but thousands and thousands of political, social, commercial and regulatory entities. Great political battles take place over decades for control of road budgets. Efforts are constantly made to cut cost to the bone or put off needed road infrastructure, as the alarming state of bridges in the US demonstrate.

      If we limit ourselves to the most used roads, consider those in the bounds of the top half of the MSAs, we still have a lot of miles of roads, many of which carry high capacity traffic and thus need more attention. Yes, I know you are not proposing repaving all roads, but refitting them is going to require some multiplier of these estimates. And just consider reliability, when we have a power outage you can still traverse a road, but carefully. Likewise, surges in use just make things slow, but we need such overcapacity support in systems to support the rolling rush hours over timezones as they occur. I think these estimates are good enough to start thinking about the scale of costs.

      My gut tells me that this is a bigger project than anything currently being done. Perhaps we’d need to redirect all of the current VC investment to really address this, and still come up short. And it will take a long time to implement, even if we made all the regulation go away and forced all of the public and private organizations to capitulate. I don’t see that happening very soon. I think change needs to come from a different part of the system and I wouldn’t anticipate much government help.

  • KevinTheBright

    Good article if we want to know where the hockey puck is today but by the time Apple releases a car that puck will be headed toward far less private ownership and far more fleet ownership vis-a-vie Lyft, Uber, etc. But why bother selling 5M+ autonomous cars to an Uber when you can extend your ecosystem by doing it yourself. I for one would love to order an Apple ShareCar by iPhone, get in and its all synced up to my Apple i-eco. Indeed, a lot of us are already driving the last car we will ever buy.

    • We keep hearing about the changing vehicle ownership climate, yet the US sold a record number of cars in 2015. Similar projections are being made for the next few years.

      I don’t have a fully formed opinion about this yet, but I did think there was something to the changing ownership (<) argument this time last year. Less so now.

      • matthewmaurice

        I’m not sure it’s the number of cars sold so much as to whom they are sold, or more accurately not sold. I haven’t seen much to counter older reports that car ownership, and even drivers license possession, was down amongst millennials.

        “The fact is, today’s young people simply don’t drive like their predecessors did. In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008 (source:

        I think the changing ratio of Millennials to Boomers bodes poorly for car ownership, if not car sales, statistics.

      • We don’t disagree. That’s to say, I don’t argue with the segmented data.

        Time will tell if this materializes into a growing trend, but for now car sales are at record levels.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Maybe those numbers are more a proxy for the collapse of the middle class than Millennials lack of interest in car ownership ?

  • David Malcolm Puranen

    I suspect that Apple will release the Apple Car as fully battery powered (duh). I highly suspect that they’ll have good enough auto pilot to do away with the steering wheel. Though I suspect they may leave it in either a very high end model, or they might leave it in because some people don’t trust a computer to drive. (Knowing Apple though I expect them to remove the steering wheel. Actually just occurred to me that they might make the Wheel be an add on that can be mounted. Then they can charge extra for you, but also implant the idea that you really don’t want to use it in order to have the pure experience.)

    Part of me can see them going for the high end for the first year to six months. But I suspect that Tim might be worried that if sales aren’t stellar off the hop, that the stock will get hammered. And with the Apple Watch they came out with the sport, normal and edition right away. The problem though, is that with the Apple Watch the only differentiator is the casing. So the R&D cost is not very large to create three models for the Watch. (Likewise building the iPhone Plus models has mostly been to accommodate another screen size which isn’t all that much extra work relative to the overall work of creating an iPhone.)

    With cars different models often mean different shapes. I would expect if Apple released multiple car models, they would probably differentiate within the first year or two based on things like colour, as well as interior materials. The highest end gets leather, a glassy black or gold paint job, and some sort of improved sound system that audiophiles will believe is better than the one in the standard model. Where as the model a mom and dad with two kids who aren’t wall street douche bags can afford would be similar in colour options to the iPhone 5C, and the seating material would either be the standard car fabric type, or something that nobody has ever put on a car seat before. (Kinda like how lots of people were surprised at how good the sports band felt. Ive seems big on discovering new materials to use in different ways)

    My guess is that they run things like this for a year or two. (I suspect that they might actually move to a two year cycle at least for major hardware redesigns. I don’t think they’ll iterate the exterior as much as normal car companies do.) After they’ve ensured that there won’t be any crazy law suits from people claiming an autonomous car ran over their dog or something, (and once they know they’re not running over people’s dogs.) they’ll move into the real end game. iUber.

    At this point Apple is one of the only companies that could create whatever infrastructure they want in a lot of major cities and pay for it out of pocket. Uber has essentially crowd sourced their experience to drivers who lease their own vehicles. (Uber will eventually offer autonomous cars for sure, but I doubt they’ll be Apple Cars) Apple will build out distribution centres in segments of big cities. There the cars will come and go and recharge through out the day. And when you want one, it’ll come to you.

    Especially with the death of retail there is probably lots of little shops around that could be torn down and converted into recharging stations. Also if Apple has the cars running around autonomously picking people up where they need to be, Apple can use alternative power sources, like fuel cells, or they can have a car “come home” have it’s battery removed, and another one slid into place, all automatically. So a car isn’t just sitting idle when it’s battery needs to be recharged.

    Beyond that, if they tie it to people’s Apple IDs, they already have a credit card on file. So as soon as the hail the ride, a photo is taken of the interior of the car, and that prevents vandalism or damage. (Hopefully also they have a sensor that can measure air quality so that if someone smokes or sprays a body spray on themselves, the car can be properly cleaned and an extra charge placed on the previous rider.

    I’m pretty sure that iUber is Apple’s end game, but it’ll take a few years to build up their cars as having a reputation of being safe and reliable first, and then they’l leverage the fact that most people can’t just go out and buy one the way they can with an iPhone they’ve been lusting over, and introduce the ride hailing service.

  • neutrino23

    Comparing iPhones and cars is interesting. The iPhone benefited from the immense improvements we’ve seen in semiconductors. Gigabytes of flash storage are cheap, low power, fast and reliable. LCD screens have improved immensely. Batteries have gotten a little better but the CPU and GPU has become vastly faster and more capable while drawing less power. Even the high frequency components for the various radios have become much improved. At the keynotes Apple has told us how the performance of the iPhone has sometimes doubled in a single year.

    Software has been hugely important as well. iOS 9 and apps from Apple and others is vastly more useful and beneficial than what was provided in the original iPhone or its competitors at the time.

    I don’t see those sort of technical changes available for Apple to ride towards an incursion into the car business. Cars are largely metal, plastic and glass formed into a vehicle with an engine of some sort.

    Material science presses on but it doesn’t hold out hope of order of magnitude improvements. It would be awesome if we could make cars 10x lighter, make batteries with 10x more capacity, or make cars 10x cheaper. I don’t see that happening, physics doesn’t allow for that.

    Battery technology may improve quite a bit. We won’t get a lot more capacity but we could see batteries that charge and discharge rapidly, last through a few thousand cycles and are relatively cheap. There is nothing in the physics of batteries that says that can’t happen.

    My point is that the opportunity for Apple is not going to be in radically changing the fundamentals of the car but in changing the idea of transportation. I don’t know what this could be but it has to be more than a better car-navigation system or a better way of choosing music to play.

    This really puzzles me. Certainly Apple could design and build very nice cars. They have a vast pool of design and engineering talent. But I really wonder where is the potential energy for changing the transportation business?

    I’m not too concerned about the introductory model, but where is this headed in five or ten generations?

    • BMc

      Agree with you in that the fundamental technologies of materials, batteries, etc, will not be changing rapidly, nor will Apple have some magic that other companies wouldn’t be able to obtain. Apple though, with all of their battery experience on consumer tech, may become a leader in the space in short order.

      I don’t believe that Apple will, in the near term, get into ride-sharing services ala Uber / Lyft. Pure services, for services sake, haven’t been Apple’s approach & don’t play to their strengths. They are a (mostly consumer) product company, and services exist primarily to help sell those products. If they approach selling cars, it will be targeting an “ownership” model (although they may offer some innovative financing options).

      Taking autonomous (fully self-driving) aside, as I don’t believe that will become mainstream for many years due to legal and regulatory barriers, Apple can still provide innovation & great improvements in the user experience for the car. And the can do so alongside a brand new production method, which allows them to scale up more easily, or provide more flexibility in configuration.

      The user experience of vehicles only changes at a glacial pace, and we can see with Apple’s CarPlay approach that it is still only coming out in a few models in 2017. And the implementations of it look a bit half-assed with some car manufacturers. Apple can focus on great integration of iDevices, HomeKit, etc. Things like your Apple Watch (or iPhone with Touch ID) is able to unlock your car as you approach. Apple Music / Maps / etc seamlessly integrated between iDevice and car. The smartphone is becoming the computing centre of many people’s lives, and no car company is doing much to make this well integrated. Apple can lead in this area, and perhaps have some further leverage with other car companies as a result.

      With the Apple Watch, Apple looked at usability beyond the s/w. They were the first to come out with truly easy & fast method to swap out bands, and bands that provided a better fit, despite coming to the watch market 100 years later. I am sure there are many areas in car design & usability that could use similar innovation.

      Apple has also invested a lot recently into green energy, and may expand this further to provide “green recharging” in select initial locations, through partnerships.

      A big question for me is which market do they target? Go after the younger, more urban market with a cute, Mini/Beetle-like design as that market are likely large Apple users? But EV’s have a challenge in that majority of charging needs to be at home, and this is less likely in urban. Or go after the suburban user, with something more practical (but still stylish), as EV’s are mostly used in this market today?

    • rational2

      You are forgetting an important dimension – modularity. Auto industry has been vertically integrated and that works fine for incumbents but doesn’t help innovation. If Apple or another player can introduce modularity, thereby taking advantage of diverse, specialized module suppliers (we are talking core components here; peripherals like radios, tires, airbags are already modular), that makes it easier for companies such as Apple, which can focus on integrating to provide superior user experience, to provide better value to customers.

      Horace repeatedly talks about modularity in the phone industry and how Apple excels at leveraging modularity. He also talks about how vertically integrated the auto industry is, and how there is a much needed introduction of modularity.

  • The Cook Doctrine is obviously an excellent way to view Apple’s potential move into any category. But it doesn’t properly convey Apple’s ultimate genius: crafting a disruptive customer experience, or the true “whole widget”.

    Personal transportation looks a lot like the cellular handset market did when Apple solved a lot of the customer-hostile (or unfriendly, if you prefer) realities.

    The possibilities for improving transportation seem like they’re coming to a particularly attractive vector. Apple will confuse the competition with their obvious technology strengths (some killer), but it will be their actions in the area of the customer experience that will ultimately unhinge the incumbents.

  • Will

    In the time since, Apple achieved the equivalent of about 35% share of unit sales.

    How is this calculated and why is the marketshare not reflecting this number?

    • Space Gorilla

      Read the article again (and the footnotes), I believe Horace is referencing US market share for the iPhone.

      • Will

        Oh right, that makes sense

    • This is the US market (cars and smartphones)

  • fstein

    Think different.
    Instead of entering the car business, might Apple seek to disrupt car ownership?
    In Silicon Valley, where most of Apple’s highest paid workers live, many people have two cars but use both primarily for commuting. Significant brain power is wasted driving about 1 to 2 hours each day. Mass transit cannot fix this due to the sprawl of work places and homes. But self-driving cars “as a Service” vs. car ownership or Uber can help. They can just drive from home to work and they can serve as an adjunct to mass transit on both ends of mass transit. Note, freeways, and parking (San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose) are overloaded. Cars as a Service, CaaS, not only augments mass transit, it improves the ROI of mass transit.
    The problem is not unique to Silicon Valley. Much of the US has the dispersed work force (suburbs) and work-place challenge. As the boomers age, we’ll have millions of fiercely independent people (self included) who should not be driving cars. The aging boomer driver issue will start in about a decade, growing steadily.
    Self driving cars as a service solves the charging and range problems. They can reduce the CAPEX of parking spaces in government, commercial and office real estate.
    Self driving cars can be optimized for single, small group, or large group. They dramatically reduce OPEX if owned by municipalities (vs. the cost of unionized transit workers.)
    One use case: Professional arrives in a city airport, takes time to go to a car rental. spends money on the rental, drive less than 10 miles to the hotel, drives the next day another 10 miles to an office, and then about another 10 miles to the airport and wastes more time retuning the car. At a burden rates of $100/hours (low), the cost for those 30 miles is at least $200 plus the car rental.
    Note Apple bought a bunch of real estate near San Jose Norm Minetta Intl Airport.

  • Don D.

    What does Apple do? They make technology transparent. The Macintosh didn’t require you to be able to work from the C:> prompt, know how to install drivers, write into autoexec.bat – you just turned it on, and there was a user interface you could immediately relate to. Time and again they’ve hidden or removed the maintenance aspects, concentrating on optimizing the user experience and minimizing disruption.

    So what about cars? Last Friday I took my car to the shop for some long-needed attention. I had the rear brakes and rotors replaced, a loose tie-rod end replaced, the oil and radiator fluid changed, a slow leak in a tire fixed, the front tires rotated to the rear, and the tires balanced and aligned. Why do I have to keep doing that, year after year?

    Consider the guitar. The traditional guitar requires a body of a particular shape and construction. You have a few options – body size, bracing patterns, etc., but the basic design is completely dependent on the ability to acoustically amplify the energy imparted to the strings. Then came electric pickups. Suddenly the body could be any shape or design; the neck design was retained simply for skill transfer. Then came digital music generation. Now you can play a “guitar” from a keyboard or any variety of experimental – and more versatile – interfaces.

    Commenters here have focused on the self-driving car as the driving breakthrough. I’m sure that driver assist (and, ultimately, replacement) will be a factor, but I don’t think it will be a driver, simply because of the time frame required for its integration into society and the existing infrastructure, When I think about it, I consider the key enabling technology to be “drive by wire”.

    Like the guitar, the car’s current design is heavily derived from mechanical necessities – e.g. engine placement, mechanical rod which can be rotated by the driver to steer the vehicle (which, by the way, has been a major safety hazard as long as cars have been made), etc. There is no need to retain this design parameter – e.g. there’s no reason you couldn’t drive a car with a sophisticated joystick, pushing forward to control speed and braking, right and left to control steering, with software controlling the rate of turn based on speed, rate of braking based on detected obstacles, etc. I suspect that Apple is looking intensively at that area.

    But more to the point (something Horace has referred to), most buyers couldn’t care less what size the engine is, how many speeds the transmission has, and all the other details so beloved by the auto equivalent of computer nerds. They are influenced by the exterior and, to some extent, what it feels like to drive it, but sold by the interior.

    So why not separate the interior/exterior from all the “mechanics” which the driver doesn’t really care about, and which are such a pain to maintain? Tesla has made the battery a modular replacement, but why not make the whole chassis replaceable? Apple provides the chassis (actually, probably a choice of 3 initially, varying in size and power); you buy the body of choice. The bodies have attachment points and a plug-in interface which controls all the activity, have integral safety cages (as the Smart car) and perhaps even break-away points. The bodies are plug-and-play – when a body is plugged in, the chassis queries it for identification, then selects the driver which that body uses (or the range of performance options driver-selectable for that body). Bodies are uniquely identified, so Apple can track miles driven by an individual body every time the chassis is changed; that allows mileage-based pricing and/or government reporting for tax allocation purposes.

    You lease the chassis, buy the body (maybe). Maintenance? Drive into the Apple car store (which is actually a maintenance center with a showroom out front, like many current dealers), drive out 10 minutes later with your body on a different chassis. The chassis will go through a rigorous inspection; required maintenance will be done, anything below spec will be fixed, any software upgrades will be installed, then it will go back into stock for another customer.

    Having a baby? Drive in, select your 4-seat body, trade in your 2-seat, and drive away. If you choose to upgrade to a body which takes the next larger chassis, it’s simply reflected in the monthly leasing charge. Over time, perhaps they would open the platform to having bodies designed by other manufacturers – e.g. Ferrari – or maybe their initial release would be in partnership with an existing automaker (the AT&T model) to minimize the amount of new manufacturing they would have to set up.

    This is what I consider the most obvious model for modularizing the auto without requiring infrastructure change or massive change in driver habits. It provides a platform for incrementally upgrading to ESDV (Electric Self-Driving Vehicles) as society adapts to them, and making other changes. And I would expect them to not only take away maintenance issues, but other headaches – finance and, most notably, auto insurance, which would be included in your lease (they might buy an insurance company for the existing expertise and state-specific offices, dedicate it to insuring Apple cars, and streamline the process to lower costs). It would be consistent with Apple’s penchant for taking the most annoying and unnecessary legacy irritants out of the user experience.

    This would bridge the ownership/rental question, and allow it to move in either direction. They would clearly start in large city markets, and might offer fleet options to boost initial adoption (a potential game-changer there, too). Long-term, if it goes that way, they could do chassis-swap as Tesla does battery-swap for long-range travel, although I expect there may be some other developments which affect that.

  • berult

    There ought to be as much integration building-up within constituent modules as there is, by definition, a modularity build-up leading up to integration, …to digestible integrity.

    What causes effects is not in effect the cause per se, but its quantum integrity.

    A go-to-market hybrid Apple product…hybrid meaning a modulated cross between HI and AI in whatever shape and form one can imagine, be it desktop, laptop, phone-like, wearable, car/home-sized, or company-sized…in essence, Apple itself…, as well as every component parts of each and everyone of these products, ….must be a fractal extension to the quantized founder-mindset. The latter being, indeed…in deeds, the stem cell of the overarching mission statement, the nodal firmware of digestible integrity.

    The very essence of modularity resides in its structural quest for semiotic integration.

  • berult

    Horace Dediu

    ‎ ‏‪@asymco‬
    It’s pretty clear that the iPhone franchise has been discounted to a zero dollar net present value.
    09:56 – 26 janv. 2016

    Hitting the ‘long’ pay dirt, longs the big-bang days of star-struck ‘garage’ sails… Those now gone, and yet persistent Steve Jobs’ kinda days…

    Again…, the iPhone does not an object make. The iPhone did, does, and will a homo sapiens sapiens make. More and more, self-adding and exogenous-mechanism-free value if you ask me. The iPhone builds up its own ‘power’ supply…and demand; it caters to the dilettante illuminati, I, as well as to the professional ignorant, I. It draws power from the former, and relents it to the latter. I suspect the slight original asymmetry in the Universe comes from this left-over, from the previous cycle, of distillate sapience, after it having not quite entirely dried out of the system from terminally professionalized, and of the chaotic kind…irrelevancies…

    Now, on to the Pacific-war theory-building…

    How could Japan engage the then actual-and-potential Anglo-American military-industrial-sociological-political-psychological war-and-peace machine in that most open, thus most pedagogical way, so that it would have led to a favorably predictable outcome, from the teacher’s geo-political perspective?

    As the marksman guest expounded… The theoretical answer lies in the empirically un-embedded, for absent, landmarks in the overarching Japanese Story. Japan, no matter the odds against it not having been once taught a far-reaching, teachable moment, was never colonized nor defeated within both its physical and psycho-social boundaries.

    Up until their WWll collapse, Japan had been a bedrock of nationalistic predictability. For a second opinion, should we ask the Mongols, the Chinese, the Koreans, …or any ‘religiously’ invasive missions of either the Holy Cross or the Confucian Orthodoxy…?

    At the time, Japan’s psycho-social boundaries knew no boundaries. For there had never been any brought-to-bear moderating influence upon their feudal-like psyche from beyond their shoreline. Insular paranoia from shape-shifting, alliance-shifting, territorial fiefdoms galore, and fierce inbreeding competitiveness saw in real or apprehended Japanese problems, fierce, à-la-war lordly Japanese solutions. Because that was how their islands came to be molded into their, all rights reserved, Japan.

    Japan acted upon the world opening up to and around their culture, culture in the widest sense of the idiom, as they systemically had done amongst themselves for centuries. Not that they thought they could get away with…murder, but they simply expanded to others what history had taught them repeatedly that… to exist as a Japanese, one has to achieve existential credence through, and strictly through the permanently assaulted from the inside, and yet fruitful for survivability-resourceful Japanese way.

    Theory-building has to be filtered through existential tautologies. “I exist because I managed my existence in the manner of managing to exist…”