Apple is perhaps signaling its future intentions regarding the auto industry with the announcement it is investing $1 billion in a Chinese rival to ride-sharing businesses such as Lyft and Uber.
The investment in Didi Chuxing Technology was announced yesterday and comes just a few months after General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] announced it was investing $500 million in Lyft. Didi is the largest ride-sharing service in China and accounts for nearly 90 percent of the country's ride-sharing business, providing as much as 11 million rides per day, the company says.
GM has already confirmed plans to develop a fully autonomous ride-sharing service with Lyft, a service that might start as early as next year, and it is likely Apple has something similar in store for its future dealings with Didi. Google and Uber have also hinted at developing an autonomous ride-sharing service.
Though Apple didn’t provide specifics on its investment in Didi, the company is widely reported to be developing autonomous driving technology and possibly its own car. Another, more immediate possibility is the expansion of Apple Pay among Didi’s user base.
“Didi exemplifies the innovation taking place in the iOS developer community in China,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “We are extremely impressed by the business they've built and their excellent leadership team, and we look forward to supporting them as they grow.”