Apple Car’s Active Suspension and Apple’s No to App Store Commission
It is not clear whether or not Apple will eventually sell a car with an Apple brand. But Apple continues to accumulate patents related to cars. One such patent describes an active suspension system with some interesting innovations.
In the patent titled “Active suspension system with energy storage device,” Apple describes a typical hydraulics-based active suspension system with some changes. The patent describes an “energy storage device” consisting of a cylinder that is connected at the top and bottom to the hydraulic actuator.
Apple’s innovation may reduce the amount of hydraulic fluid that is required for the suspension’s operation. The innovation may also provide more control over ride firmness.
Diomidis Katzourakis, Christopher L. Porritt, Johannes A. Huennekens, Huibert Mees, and Paul J. Keas are listed as the inventors of this technology.
Such active suspension systems are usually found in high-end luxury cars – Mercs, BMWs, Ferraris, Lamborghinis and so forth. Apple’s research interests in features that are found in high-end luxury cars is intriguing.
Apple’s other patents in the automotive domain relate to embedded displays in windows and doors that automatically adjust their range based on the proximity of other vehicles.
Apple has also patented inventions pertaining to short-range inter-vehicle communication systems and air-conditioning systems with configurable scents.
App Store Commissions
Apple has warned investors that changes to its App Store commission could hurt its bottom line. Apple’s Form 10-K for its 2020 fiscal year includes this detail. Apple is having disputes with Epic Games and others regarding its 30 per cent commission on in-app purchases and subscriptions.
“If the rate of the commission that the Company retains on such sales is reduced, or if it is otherwise narrowed in scope or eliminated, the Company’s financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected,” Apple wrote in the filing.
Developers, lawmakers and antitrust regulators are none too happy about Apple’s practices.
The 10-K regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission also reveals Apple benefiting from remote work and remote learning trends that were accelerated because of the Covid19 pandemic.
MacBook Pro sales were excellent as also sales of the iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro.
Apple’s Profit Machines
Apple makes handsome profits via such routes as App Store commissions and exclusive arrangements with Google. The US Justice Department has targeted Google in an antitrust lawsuit pertaining to its dominance in online search and advertising. One of the monopolistic behaviors that Google has indulged in is its partnership with Apple. Google pays Apple several billions of dollars per year for having Google as the default search engine on iPhones and Siri.
These sort of deals are highly profitable for Apple as the revenue garnered from them flows straight to Apple’s bottom-line. It remains to be seen whether regulators will ultimately prevail in any likely court battle regarding Google’s outsize influence in online search and advertising.
Apple is not yet a direct target of any US government antitrust action but the regulatory landscape is evolving. While Big Tech is coming out with spectacular quarterly results and net profits, changes in the political landscape can have repercussions on the regulatory landscape.