Apple's $1 Billion Investment in Didi Chuxing Aligned With Electric Vehicle Plans

Didi-ChuxingApple announced yesterday that it has invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing, but CEO Tim Cook refused to elaborate on the reasoning behind the move, beyond saying that it will help the company better understand the Chinese market and "deliver a strong return" on its invested capital over the long term.

Nevertheless, a pair of new reports suggest that Apple's ambitions behind its investment in the Uber rival could relate to its oft-rumored electric vehicle plans and broader push into the automotive industry.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that Didi Chuxing is "not only an important ally in a key market, but also a rich data source for self-driving vehicles," which is valuable to Apple amid rumors that it is developing its own electric and possibly autonomous vehicle.

Didi provides Apple with a rich data source for its self-driving vehicle push. It also could provide benefits to Apple’s mobile ecosystem. Ride-sharing apps are closely linked to payment services, such as Apple Pay. They also can be the foundation for other mobile commerce transactions such as deliveries.

The investment sets up with a potential showdown of firms aligned with Uber, which has taken investments from Alphabet Inc.’s venture capital arm and Chinese search giant Baidu. Both Alphabet and Baidu have invested heavily in autonomous driving technology.

The Information reported that ride-sharing services like Didi Chuxing and Uber are highly interested in self-driving vehicles, which would reduce overhead costs by eliminating the need for contracted drivers. In fact, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was reportedly planning to meet at Apple headquarters this week to "talk about future partnership opportunities," but the status of that meeting remains unknown.

This deal isn’t about the Didi service today. It establishes a future alliance around tech like self-driving cars, where Apple and Google are going head-to-head. Developing autonomous vehicles is the end game for these ride sharing companies—the move that will help them mint money by cutting out the cost of drivers. Uber has made big investments on that front, as has its partner Baidu. Didi had not. But Apple […] can help.

The so-called Apple Car, allegedly known as Project Titan internally, could launch by 2020. The bulk of research and development may be centered in the Santa Clara Valley area, near Apple's existing Cupertino headquarters, led by a team that includes former Tesla, Ford, and GM employees and other automotive experts. The vehicle is expected to compete with the likes of Tesla and Google.

Related Roundup: Apple Car

Top Rated Comments

Johnny907 Avatar
71 months ago
Remember after Steve was fired from Apple, they started dabbling into really weird niche products that had nothing to do with their core business and sales across the board began to tank due to lack of updates/innovation in the products that actually made money thus crippling the company revenue?
I look at the numbers for iPhones and Mac's going down year over year, stories like this one indicating more and more capital and resources being diverted from core product R&D into this "Apple Car," and I can't help but get a chilling sense of deja vu.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Reds622 Avatar
71 months ago
Remember after Steve was fired from Apple, they started dabbling into really weird niche products that had nothing to do with their core business and sales across the board began to tank due to lack of updates/innovation in the products that actually made money thus crippling the company revenue?
I look at the numbers for iPhones and Mac's going down year over year, stories like this one indicating more and more capital and resources being diverted from core product R&D into this "Apple Car," and I can't help but get a chilling sense of deja vu.
Does it make it even worse that Tim Cook is trying to align and integrate the company on a substantial level with a communist government with a terrible human rights record?

Seems to me that Tim Cook has taken for granted the market that has turned the company into what it has become, the United States, because he feels beholden to the market to keep searching for higher and higher returns. But instead of focusing on innovation through the pipeline, and continuing to focus on what has made Apple great, he's been looking for short term solutions by focusing so heavily on emerging markets. And I'm not saying that trying to capitalize on countries like China and India should not be a focus, but to do so in a way that I feel is detrimental to the long term interests of the company is short sighted and could be a costly mistake. If US consumers start to feel that Apple is prioritizing Chineze business over America interests because it is a "bigger" market with more growth potential, then they are going to start looking elsewhere. And if US consumers start to go elsewhere, then the shine of Apple begins to wear off and it could be crippling on its business worldwide. Now, obviously a worst case scenario, but I don't like the direction Cook is taking the company, and haven't for a while now (see fashion wearables, multiple color computers, low power computers, increasing share buybacks, etc.). A little worrisome.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jakexb Avatar
71 months ago
Remember after Steve was fired from Apple, they started dabbling into really weird niche products that had nothing to do with their core business and sales across the board began to tank due to lack of updates/innovation in the products that actually made money thus crippling the company revenue?
I look at the numbers for iPhones and Mac's going down year over year, stories like this one indicating more and more capital and resources being diverted from core product R&D into this "Apple Car," and I can't help but get a chilling sense of deja vu.
People said that about the iPhone. There were computers and there were phones -- and the two worlds were entirely separate. Not a core business at all.

Apple is a company that is really good at using industrial design + engineering to create consumer products. They are trying to learn how to get better at software services. In some ways, I'd say the software services are more of a stretch for Apple than a car, which seems perfectly aligned with their strengths in industrial design, engineering, and manufacturing.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
71 months ago
Remember after Steve was fired from Apple, they started dabbling into really weird niche products that had nothing to do with their core business and sales across the board began to tank due to lack of updates/innovation in the products that actually made money thus crippling the company revenue?
I look at the numbers for iPhones and Mac's going down year over year, stories like this one indicating more and more capital and resources being diverted from core product R&D into this "Apple Car," and I can't help but get a chilling sense of deja vu.
So what do you think Apple should be working on for the future? Smartphones and laptops are pretty mature at this point. I don't think autonomous vehicles are weird or niche. Not part of Apple's core business now but their core business is pretty mature with not a ton of growth prospects. if all Apple can ever be is a company that makes phones and laptops/desktops then I don't think the future is very bright.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ctyrider Avatar
71 months ago
The problem I have is that Apple essentially just caved to the Chinese Government and invested in the Chinese over the American tech sector.
To be fair - you have no idea of Apple's reasoning behind the deal.. Or what did or didn't happen behind the scenes. So your assertion of Apple "caving in" to Chinese government is completely baseless.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nunyabinez Avatar
71 months ago
Remember after Steve was fired from Apple, they started dabbling into really weird niche products that had nothing to do with their core business and sales across the board began to tank due to lack of updates/innovation in the products that actually made money thus crippling the company revenue?
I look at the numbers for iPhones and Mac's going down year over year, stories like this one indicating more and more capital and resources being diverted from core product R&D into this "Apple Car," and I can't help but get a chilling sense of deja vu.
Where do you see the numbers going down? I think you are confusing growth with volume.


Does that look like going down to anyone?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Begins Preparation for iPhone 13 Production Ahead of Fall Launch

Monday June 28, 2021 3:29 am PDT by
We're just a few months away from when Apple is expected to reveal the 2021 iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 13." In preparation for its launch, it has been pulling in shipments of different components needed to produce the new iPhones, according to a report from DigiTimes. In years past, Apple released its latest iPhone lineup, alongside a new Apple Watch, during a September event at Apple Park....
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
bluetti eb70 main

MacRumors Giveaway: Win a Bluetti EB70 Portable Power Station and 200W Solar Panel

Friday September 3, 2021 11:13 am PDT by
For this week's giveaway, we've teamed up with MAXOAK to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a Bluetti portable power station and an accompanying solar panel. Bluetti makes a range of portable power station options that are useful for camping, emergencies, power outages, off-grid living, and similar situations. The Bluetti EB70 is a solid middle of the road option that offers 716Wh and...
apple privacy

Apple Publishes FAQ to Address Concerns About CSAM Detection and Messages Scanning

Monday August 9, 2021 1:50 am PDT by
Apple has published a FAQ titled "Expanded Protections for Children" which aims to allay users' privacy concerns about the new CSAM detection in iCloud Photos and communication safety for Messages features that the company announced last week. "Since we announced these features, many stakeholders including privacy organizations and child safety organizations have expressed their support of...
macos catalina legacy system extension alert

Apple Begins Warning Users That 'Legacy System Extensions' Won't Work With a Future Version of macOS

Wednesday March 25, 2020 9:53 am PDT by
Apple has shared a new support document that indicates kernel extensions — which it calls "legacy system extensions" — will not be compatible with a future version of macOS because they "aren't as secure or reliable as modern alternatives."System extensions are a category of software that works in the background to extend the functionality of your Mac. Some apps install kernel extensions, which...
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Pauses Plans to Add AirPlay 2 Support to iOS App [Update: Spotify Clarifies]

Friday August 6, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
See update at bottom of article Spotify this week confirmed that its plans to add AirPlay 2 support to its iOS app have been placed on indefinite hiatus. In an online discussion forum post, a Spotify representative said the streaming music service had been working on supporting AirPlay 2, but the company has paused the efforts "for now" due to "audio driver compatibility issues." The...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
Pixel Stand 23W 668x445

Google Pixel 6 Rumored to Support 23W Wireless Charging, Beating iPhone 12's MagSafe

Wednesday September 1, 2021 1:54 am PDT by
Google is rumored to be working on a new wireless charging stand that could deliver 23W of charging power to its upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones, according to a leaked inventory image published by Android Police. Image via Android Police. If true, that would beat the iPhone 12's maximum 15W wireless charging speed (or 12W on ‌iPhone 12 mini‌) using Apple's MagSafe charger, and...