It is thought that Apple have been recruiting for the so-called Titan Project since February last year, bringing in executives from numerous automotive leaders including Tesla, Chrysler and Nvidia, not to mention a rumored potential partnership with BMW. In October 2015, Apple CEO Tom Cook also seemed to hint that the tech giant may have plans to enter into the automotive space, declaring that the industry should prepare for a “massive change.” The latest in what seems like an ever-growing list of tell-tale signs comes from the Whois database, a public record of domain names and owners, whose January update confirmed that Apple has indeed secured the top-level domains apple.car, apple.cars and apple.auto.
So what is the significance of Apple procuring these domains? Ownership certainly plays a role in domain registration; any member of the public can obtain information about which organization owns a particular domain, for example through the WHOIS Domain Lookup service provided by 1&1. However, registered domains are also a key part of the branding strategy of any business, helping to improve SEO and search result rankings.
Another significant factor is brand protection; registering certain domains, as Apple has done, essentially ensures continued brand integrity and helps to safeguard against any false or potentially negative associations. Whilst this could certainly imply that Apple are laying the foundations for a future automotive brand, these domains may also be related to CarPlay, the company’s in-vehicle interface project which will enable drivers to operate their iPhone without losing focus on the road. What’s more, it is not uncommon for Apple to register domain names, patents and trademarks that remain inactive.
However, having purchased the iCloud.com domain name months before the service was announced, the launch of a state-of-the-art vehicle from Apple would certainly come as no surprise. There is plenty of speculation about what an iCar might look like, from a driverless vehicle to an entirely connected car that would sync up to all of the user’s devices, along with pioneering digital number plates and an iPhone operated key system. Whether the so-called Titan Project does indeed exist, only time will tell, but if the predicted launch date of 2020 is to be believed, it won’t be long before all is revealed.
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