Apple Laid Off 600 People in Pivot Away From Cars and Watch Displays: Report

Apple decided to stop building cars and smartwatch displays in-house so it laid off 600 employees, according to a report from Bloomberg Thursday. The layoffs, which occurred in Feb. and March, affected 87 employees working at a secret Apple facility working on smartwatch screens, and hundreds working on the Apple Car.

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Apple began to wind down its secret car project two months ago, throwing away roughly a decade’s worth of research and billions of dollars in investments. Around the same time, Apple also shut down its internal effort to develop in-house displays for the Apple Watch, according to Bloomberg. Both projects had massive, secret teams that no longer have positions with Apple. These layoffs were reported in filings to the California Employment Development Department.

Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

The death of the Apple Car project is taking hundreds of jobs with it. Known internally as Project Titan, the Apple Car was first leaked in 2014 and generated lots of excitement and speculation for roughly a decade. It was rumored to be fully autonomous, but the project hit countless delays. Former employees working on the Apple Car were even convicted for stealing secrets about the project.

As for the smartwatch display, this was a smaller team that was part of Apple’s efforts to design more of its technology in-house. Apple customizes the displays in its products, but they’re based on designs from LG and Samsung. This team aimed to make new watch displays that were supposed to be thinner, more colorful, and brighter. However, this effort was scrapped as well.

The remaining employees on these teams were reportedly thrown into Apple’s generative AI effort. The iPhone maker seems to be focusing everything on artificial intelligence at the moment, and pulling resources away from moonshot hardware efforts.

In some ways, this makes sense for Apple, as other major players such as Google and Amazon are doing the same. However, Apple has historically differentiated itself by bucking trends and innovating on new technologies that don’t exist yet. The Vision Pro is a modern example of this, but other hardware projects are being scrapped. Apple seems to believe it needs to catch up on generative AI or it will be left behind altogether.

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Maxwell Zeff