If Apple made cars ...

Quick question - do you open the hood of your car? If so, how often? And to do what?Many of you will remember that old joke/urban legend about how if Microsoft made cars, it would crash twice a day. But what if Apple made cars?

Quick question - do you open the hood of your car? If so, how often? And to do what?

Many of you will remember that old joke/urban legend about how if Microsoft made cars, it would crash twice a day. But what if Apple made cars?

My guess is that if Apple made cars, they wouldn't have a user-openable hood. Everything that is accessible would be made available from the dashboard, and everything else would be buried out of sight. You'd be allowed some options (different engine, number of doors, etc), and there would also be some customizations available (colors, trim and so on). The end user would also be able to carry out some after-market customizations (change the wheels, add detailing, furry dice, that sort of thing), but these options would be limited.

If something went wrong with the car, you'd plug it into a computer and run some diagnostics. Hopefully this would sort it out. If it didn't then you've need to arrange for the guys at the "Genius Garage" to take a look at it.

Now, how you view this relationship with your car depends on the kind of person you are. If you're a car person, and mechanically minded, then the removal of the ability to "tinker" would seem like a really huge loss. If you're the kind of person who just wants to get in the seat and drive from A to B, you're not going to care one bit about not being able to pop the hood.

See, I once used to be a car person. I loved to tinker with cars. In fact, I'd go much further than that, and carry out re-bores, polishing manifolds, adjusting carburetors and so on. I've even been known to swap out entire engines and gearboxes in an afternoon or strip down and rebuild an axle just to check if everything was OK.

But that was a long time ago, when I had more time. Now, when I jump behind the wheel I want my car to start, take me from A to B, then back to A again. To keep it doing that I take it to people I trust, and when it lets me down I let those folks fix what's gone wrong. I still pop the hood to check oil, water ad other vital fluid levels, and I carry out a visual of the vital parts weekly and before going on a long trip, but that's it. I haven't changed an engine or gearbox in years, and the last bit of car surgery I did myself was swap out the battery for a bigger, better one.

Coming back to tech, I used to think that my cellphone needed a user-replaceable battery because it was "handy to carry a spare," but the truth is that I rarely carried a spare with me. I can build and repair and upgrade my own PCs, but the truth is that I have several projects that are on the go that I can't find the time to complete. Same with other bits of tech.

The truth is that as we end up with less time but more money in out pockets, using that spare time we have to fix stuff seems like a bad deal, and more and more people are choosing to pay someone else to fix the broken stuff in their lives. If it can't be fixed, replace it.

The point I'm getting at here is that what Apple is doing with technology appeals to the masses. They don't care about repairing stuff, upgrading stuff or fixing it. They don't really care about what goes on under the hood as long it all works. Under the hood there could be anything, ranging from some steampunk bit of kit to magic, as long as it works, they don't care.

I'm a techie through and through, but I'm also a realist, and I realize that the segment of the market that wants to pop the hood is on the wane.

Thoughts?

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