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Apple's Revenue Potential Is 'Huge' For Automobiles, But It's Not What You Think

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Apple's Revenue Potential Is 'Huge' For Automobiles, But It's Not What You Think
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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) might have intentionally leaked its meeting with officials from an autonomous vehicle testing ground, but that doesn't mean the company is actually building a self-driving vehicle.

"It shouldn't be a big mystery that this is an area of interest of Apple," Apple expert Sean Udall told Benzinga. "There's a lot of software and electronics in a car. In some ways I think people could be making a bigger deal out of this than they should. At the same time, there's a lot of revenue potential inside of an automobile for Apple."

That "revenue potential" might not have anything to do with automobile production.

"There's a huge mapping potential revenue stream and eyeball stream," said Udall. "To be the intelligent OS for a car…I think it's up for grabs and the most likely winners are Apple and Google. There's a huge software opportunity there."

And then there's the evolution of the driverless car itself, which Apple could influence without ever developing its own vehicle.

"There are startups where the theory is maybe it's just better to take existing vehicles, develop a kit and turn [that] vehicle into a driverless car," Udall added. "There's a lot of ways this industry is going to shakeout. I'm not sure exactly anyone knows where it's going to go."

Related Link: Is Disney The Apple Of Media And Entertainment?

Too Many Question Marks

At least one analyst thought there were still too many question marks to believe that Apple is building a car.

"We don't know who went [to GoMentum Station] exactly, what level of person, because that usually is an indicator of how strategic or tactical it could be," Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told Benzinga. "If it was someone in the executive ranks, I think it would confirm one of two things: 1) it could be a car [or] 2) it could be a car system."

Moorhead said that a lot of investors are focusing on the car itself instead of something Apple might actually be working on, such as an integrated system.

The Battle Continues

Udall said that while it is entirely possible that Apple might produce automobiles one day, "I think it's far more likely they'll produce software for it and maybe they partner with somebody else."

"What they don't want is somebody going into their cars and they don't want people to use non-Apple devices in the car," he said. "This is just sort of Apple and Google's continued war with each other. Google doesn't want Apple to have an industry all to itself. Well guess what: Apple doesn't want Google to have an industry to itself."

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

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