This is what it looks like when Apple iterates a 5,000-person project in plain sight.
Apple Inc said on Wednesday it planned to lay off 190 employees in its self-driving car program, Project Titan, changes that provide a rare window into the automotive technologies the company has been pursuing.
Additional details about the dismissals were unearthed in Apple’s letter to the California Employment Development Department, first reported on by the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to the letter, Apple laid off 38 engineering program managers, 33 hardware engineers, 31 product design engineers and 22 software engineers, taking effect on April 16.
Some of the positions hint at physical products for consumers: three product design engineers and an ergonomics engineer face layoffs. A machine shop supervisor was among the reductions, though it is unclear how many machinists reported to the supervisor and whether the shop fabricates automotive parts or smaller parts for electronics and sensors.
The layoffs appear to be the first major shake-up of Project Titan under Doug Field, who returned to Apple last year as Vice President of Special Projects after a stint at electric car maker Tesla Inc.
But the Project Titan layoffs probably aren’t just about saving money. Apple’s self-driving car project has been ramped up and down and re-thought countless times, according to numerous reports over the years. Irrespective of what Apple’s plans for the project, this latest round of layoffs is a bad sign.
My take: “Ramped up and down and re-thought countless times” is more than a bit over the top. Besides, iteration to perfection is part of Apple’s secret sauce. But I’d feel better about the shifting shape of Project Titan if it weren’t for how the HomePod turned out.