Hi once more from CES in Las Vegas. I had a busy day yesterday and I'm excited to share some of it with you.
One of Ford's self-driving test vehicles on the streets of Washington, D.C. Photo: Ford
Ford will continue its push toward "mobility" to position itself as a key player in autonomous vehicles, even as the traditional car industry seems headed for a down cycle and the realistic timeframe for AVs is being moved back, several company executives tell me at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Why it matters: Though Ford still gets most of its revenue selling personal vehicles, the company sees a world where people rely on a much wider mix of transportation modes. To transform itself for its AV goals, Ford has made a range of acquisitions and has brought more of its technology development in-house.
Driving the news: Ford's actions include buying the private bus startup Chariot and a scooter business called Spin. It's also hiring more engineers to develop more technology in-house, including self-driving capabilities and the next version of its Sync navigation/entertainment system.
The Spin purchase is a recognition that micro-vehicles of some sort will be an important part of the "first mile" and "last mile" of transit, even if they ultimately take a somewhat different form, EVP Marcy Klevorn tells Axios.
In-house technology will help Ford meet competition from tech giants Google and Apple, Ford CTO Ken Washington tells Axios.
Ford expects the timeframe of AV arrivals will be longer than the most optimistic estimates.
The big picture: Ford's rivals are also making big bets, albeit with different approaches.
Yes, but: One thing that the company won't be doing, as I scooped yesterday, is moving forward with sponsorship of the Ford GoBike bicycle-sharing service in San Francisco. Ford and Lyft, which now own the startup that runs the multi-city bike-sharing service, plan to end the deal over the next couple of months.
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
With all the TV maker partnerships Apple announced at CES, plus its earlier content deals, it's clear that video service is Apple's next big thing. But as Apple CEO Tim Cook made clear in a CNBC interview Tuesday, transforming consumer health is Apple's next really big thing.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure Apple's video plans are significant. Otherwise it wouldn't be writing giant checks to content providers like Oprah and Sesame Workshop. And it certainly wouldn't be partnering with rivals like Samsung and LG.
In the not too distant future, we will likely get the full picture as Apple launches its new video service. Augmented reality and autonomy are also areas where Apple is placing bets.
But it's clear that it is Apple's work in health care has Cook most excited.
"If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, 'What was Apple's greatest contribution to mankind?' It will be about health. ... We are democratizing it. We are taking what has been with the institutions and empowering the individual to manage their health."— Tim Cook, to CNBC
Flashback: He talked with similar enthusiasm when Axios' Mike Allen and I met with him last year for our Axios on HBO interview.
Why it matters: Apple desperately needs its next act, as its recent earnings warning makes clear. The smartphone market has matured to the point where the innovations are more incremental and that isn't where Apple shines.
The bottom line: Actions speak louder than words. But, Apple has already invested years to understand tech and build relationships with hospitals, doctors and regulators. Those are things, unlike a new app or phone feature, that are hard for rivals to quickly duplicate.
The last word: As Cook told CNBC, "We're just at the front end of this."
Axios' Ina Fried tries on Samsung's hip-augmenting exoskeleton robot. Photo: Axios
After writing about Samsung's robots earlier this week, I got to try out one of the exoskeleton prototypes yesterday. Samsung has three models, assisting the knees, ankles and hips.
My experience: I got to put on the one that helps with the hips. I could definitely feel a little boost, if not fully appreciate the 23% energy savings Samsung says the device offers. But I suspect the impact would be felt more by someone who struggles with their gait in ways I thankfully do not yet.
Where it stands: The robots aren't commercially ready in any case. So, if you want to see them in action, you might want to check out the video here. (Sorry for all the background noise.)
The FBI's booth at CES 2019. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios
With Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao now out, it's true that the most high-ranking government officials are all taking a pass on this year's CES.
But, not everyone on the federal payroll is skipping Las Vegas. I did manage to find an FBI booth staffed by a real agent. The agency is there, in part, to recruit tech companies for a public-private project called InfraGard, billed as "an alliance for national infrastructure protection."
It was also handing out its handy pamphlet: "Counterintelligence concerns for trade shows and industry events."
It takes natural skill and years of hard work to become a top athlete. But once again it turns out that all it takes is a big heart to be a true star.