Apple To Rival Tesla With Rumored iCar?

Nov 05, 2016 10:31 AM EDT | Matthew Cruz

Buzz surrounding Apple's rumored iCar reignited after the tech giant poached BlackBerry software engineers to work at an Apple center in Kanata, Canada. The center is home to Apple's current efforts to develop a self-driving car operating system (OS), popularly known as Project Titan.

The new hires were from QNX, a BlackBerry subsidiary, and numbered in the dozens, according to Macworld. The most high-profile of these hires, Dan Dodge, stepped down as QNX's CEO last September.

The BlackBerry subsidiary made news last Monday when it announced a partnership with Ford that would see the expanded use of its software in Ford's future models. The carmaker has announced plans to mass ship driverless vehicles by 2021.

40 auto producers are currently using QNX software, the new focus of BlackBerry after the company failed to steady its grip on the cellphone industry. It is unclear, however, if Apple's mission in the Kanata-based center is to simply create an OS or a full-fledged iCar.

Rumors about a possible iCar have been running wild since February 2015, when an anonymous source from Apple spoke to Business Insider about "vehicle development" in the company. 

The Apple insider said it would "give Tesla a run for its money." At the time, LinkedIn showed that Apple had an estimated 50 employees who had once worked at Tesla.

More recently, the Financial Times reported a month ago that Apple was looking to buy a "strategic stake" in luxury carmaker McLaren. It was unclear if this was simply an investment in the company or a total buyout, and McLaren has since denied the rumors, according to PC Advisor.

The New York Times also reported last September that Apple may buy a Bay Area startup, Lit Motors, a company with a range of self-driving patents around the world.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has neither denied nor confirmed the rumors of an iCar, stoking the fire. His coy responses have ranged from saying that exploring new ventures is part of Apple's nature as a curious company to teasing shareholders that it was "going to be Christmas Eve for awhile" as consumers wait for Apple's next big thing. 

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