Though it’s not going to happen, here’s why I think a Tesla-Apple marriage would have been cool.
The first thing I thought when I saw this story was… iCar. This is the place where you go when you want to take your iPhone and dock it with your car, and have your car turn into a wheeled version of your iDevice. This, I thought, would be the one place that my vision for iOS in the Car would find expression. This could put Tesla on the map!
Then, I woke up.
Yes, Apple has a boat load of cash. Yes, it would be really cool if they could do something cool like, acquire an electric car company where they could integrate all or most of their iVision and bring back the “one more thing” and a little 21st century “ohh” and “ahh” to both the technology and auto industries. Besides, it would be totally cool to plug your iPhone into the car and have it ask, where you want to go, and then automatically navigate you there. Along the way, it could (and should) point out necessary charging station layovers, and build charging time into the destination’s ETA. Ooh-hoo-hooooooo! It gives me shivers just thinking about the pairing!
See, something like that is where Apple and Tesla are [mostly] DNA compatible. Tesla’s product(s) are gusty, cutting edge and cool. Having Apple branding in a vehicle like that is certain to be a success, and if there is truly an opportunity for some sort of partnership between the two organizations, this is definitely it. If you can’t showcase what iOS in the Car really should be in a Tesla, then I’m not certain where it can find the expression of its ideal vision.
Elon Musk, is like, the Steve Jobs of automobiles. I mean, by all accounts, anyone who can dream up a mode of transportation that can take you from New York to LA via magnetic vacuum tube has got one HELL of an imagination. This is the kind of product-centric CEO that Apple needs. They need someone with a vision on the future. Someone who can look at the technology of the day, figure out what you can do, and then create a vision of where you should go based on how far the current technology can be stretched before it breaks.
This is the kind of guy that Apple needs, and it may be one of the reasons why Apple and Tesla recently spoke. While neither Apple nor Tesla will comment any further than to say, “yeah… we talked. What of it..??”; the world is excited and intrigued by the possibility that Elon Musk and his vision may meet Apple’s cash and technology and design machines and create something truly magical. This is what made Apple special. This is what Steve Jobs did, and did very well.
Tim Cook is a great guy, but he’s really just a logistics guy. He can figure out how to make the supply chain work. He can figure out how to insure that the current products in production get built, and get built on time; but he’s not the kinda guy to move the company forward…as much as it pains me to say that. He just isn’t…
Since Time took over, that’s all Apple has really been able to do. They’ve kept the supply lines to the current components flowing and have been getting buy with minimal visionary input. Tim is a business guy. He’s not a product visionary like Jobs was and like Musk IS. Again, as much as it really kills me to say it, I don’t know if or how Tim can keep Apple on the ragged, hairy bleeding edge of greatness without a serious infusion of vision. Wall Street is only going to put up with incremental improvements on current designs and product groups for so long before it declares the magic that was Jobs’ Apple gone.
On the flip side of this whole deal is how Apple and Tesla are not compatible. First, Elon Musk wants to be in charge. Period. I don’t know if Time would give up the big chair without some serious prodding.
And as much as Apple and Tesla may be good for each other, they could also turn out to be a huge train wreck. Apple has high end products that provide a solution for 90% of the market they cater to and accomplish 90% of what that demographic wants to accomplish. They’re elegant, well-built products that hold their value and provide life to a number of other industries including accessory companies and a huge resale movement that is pushing older Apple devices, in good shape, to emerging markets.
Unfortunately, you can’t say the same thing about Tesla, well… not completely. Tesla DOES have high quality products, but they speak to a much smaller market. Tesla’s products are really what the top 10% (or less) of the market can afford to do, 10% of the time. While on the surface, they do seem like they would fit together very well, you aren’t going to get a lot of market intersection between Tesla customers and Apple customers. For example, short of hitting a huge Powerball jackpot, most of the people that have iPads or iPhones aren’t also going to be able to afford a Tesla vehicle.
So, kids… you need to give me your thoughts on this. What do you think? Would Tesla and Apple make a good marriage? Does Elon Musk have what it takes to make a good exec or CEO at Apple? Can the two exist together or am I full of hot air and hype? Why not give me your thoughts in the discussion area below and tell me what you think?