McLaren is one of the most desired auto manufacturers in the world. The super premium sports cars are known for performance and power. The cars are also known for a high price tag as well, with bottom line models coming in at a few hundred thousand dollars. Luxury brands typically like to associate with other luxury brands. Apple, for example, sees itself as a luxury electronics manufacturer, and while there are other mobile phone and computer companies that sell hardware for 10 times the price of a new iPhone, Apple is one of the most openly available, higher-end tech companies on the market. That is why when news of a possible Apple acquisition of McLaren, it may have raised a few eyebrows, but it didn’t seem completely out of the blue.
Apple has started to become the Microsoft of the 1990s. During this time, Microsoft would purchase hardware and software it found desirable, integrating it into services it offered to customers around the world. In recent years, Apple has started to follow a similar path. With the vast majority of hardware within an iPhone or iPad produced by third party distributors (including Samsung), Apple has also gone on to purchase speaker and headphone brand Beats by Dre. This acquisition makes more sense now as the iPhone no longer has a headphone jack, forcing users to either purchase an adapter for current headphones, or invest in new Bluetooth headphones, specifically those produced by Apple Beats. As Apple has since gone on to ask product users if they would miss the 3.5mm headphone jack from Macbook Pros, the company is pushing its headphone brand more and more.
So why would Apple look towards McLaren? There are a few reasons behind this. Google has done a much better job diversifying its product lineup. While Apple has focused primarily on consumer tech and entertainment, Google has its hands not only in computers and Smartphone’s, but it owns Nest, the Wi-Fi thermostat, allows for map integration throughout vehicles with its Google Maps service, not to mention it has spent decades in the creation of a driverless car. All of this will likely prove fruitful for Google as an individual will be able to control almost every aspect of their life through a single Google account. Apple, in many ways, needs to play catch up if it wants to compete in this manner. As the company sees itself as a luxury brand, it would make sense for Apple to partner with a premiere brand that already uses a considerable amount of technology. This would reduce the amount of tech required to integrate Apple with McLaren. While it wouldn’t be a vehicle for the casual user, it would be more along the lines of the Apple Watch with a gold band. This is perfect for the Apple fan with money.
Reports came out Wednesday, September 21 that Apple was interested in acquiring the company, in order to develop its own auto division within the company. This way, unlike Google, which is simply building the software to control driverless cars, Apple would control the software and the hardware, which gives more direct control, although limits availability and likely increases costs. As reported by The Financial Times, McLaren has an estimated value between $1.3 and $1.9 billion. Larger auto companies would never sell off a branch. Ford would never part with its Lincoln brand and GM would never part with its Cadillac brand. This wouldn’t just involve the release of a brand but trade secrets within the production of the vehicles. The only way Apple could pull such a move off would be to take over an entire company. McLaren would prove to be the most obvious choice, as other high-end sports cars are far too expensive to acquire.
McLaren is currently denying the report, although this may be more a formality ahead of anything coming out in writing. The acquisition would help Apple compete not just against Google, but directly against Tesla. If the company wants to get into the auto industry, this may be the best time to do so, before it falls too far behind the competition to catch up.