Apple - Didi Chuxing Tie-up More Than Just Ride Hailing
Apple has invested $1bn in Chinese ride hailing service Didi Chuxing, the Uber rival that is destroying its better known opponent in the surprisingly buoyant Chinese market. The company serves 11 million rides a day.
For Apple there are good reasons to get into bed with a ride sharing company, with many surmising that its a response to the tie up between GM and Lyft and the days when taxis are self driving cars that arrive at your day unmanned. With rumours of an Apple Car in development - an electric, self driving one no less - this looks like a wise move.
Of course that particular value wouldn't be realised until Apple was ready to ship its car and that's likely to be some time in the future.
So I'm more inclined to see Apple's investment delivering benefits in different areas. Firstly there's the reason espoused by Tim Cook, the opportunity to learn the Chinese market and take a slice of the company's healthy bottom line in the process.
That seems like the very smallest slice of this particular pie.
Much more likely that Didi Chuxing is providing Apple a shortcut straight into the ride hailing business, in the same way that Beats Music provided the shortcut into music streaming. With Apple playing catch-up in the last billion dollar industry I'd say this tie up is designed to make sure it doesn't miss out on the next.
Apple Car could just as well be about competing with Uber in the areas of the US that have embraced the upstart service. With Apple branding Uber would face serious competition. Yes an Apple Car might actually arrive some time after the launch of Apple Car, but the service is the key here.
At the last end of quarter earnings call Tim Cook intimated that Apple will be focusing more of its energies on building up the services side of its business.
This seems to me to be the perfect embodiment of that plan.