Tesla is the spark Apple needs

Tesla is the spark Apple needs

Tesla is the spark Apple needs

Apple’s dismal earnings announcement shows why it absolutely needs to rethink its innovation model and its leadership. Its last breakthrough innovation was the iPhone, released in 2007. Since then, Apple has only tweaked its components, adding faster processors and more advanced sensors, and playing with its size by making it bigger. on the iPad and smaller on the Apple Watch. Chief Executive Tim Cook is probably one of the most capable operations executives in the industry, but he’s clearly not a tech visionary. Apple needs another Steve Jobs to reinvent itself or it will join the ranks of HP and Compaq.

That Steve Jobs might be Elon Musk, who turned out to be the greatest visionary of our time.

During the same period that Apple launched the iPhone and its successors, Musk developed two generations of revolutionary electric vehicles; perfected a new generation of battery technologies; and released first-generation self-driving capabilities. And that was at Tesla Motors. At his other company, SpaceX, Musk developed a spacecraft; docked it with the International Space Station and returned with cargo. It launched two rockets into space that made vertical landings on Earth, one on a helicopter-like platform and the other on a ship in the ocean.

Musk is also developing the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system in which pressurized capsules roll on a cushion of air driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. In discussions I had with him in 2012, Musk told me his ambition was to build a space station and retire to Mars. He wasn’t joking, I expect him to be.

Apple is said to have developed an electric vehicle because it views a car as an iPhone on wheels. It is conceivable that he will demonstrate something like this in the next five to ten years. But Tesla already has this technology and it’s amazing. I compared my Tesla Model S to a spaceship traveling on earth. I consider it better than any Apple product because it’s more complex, sleek, and better designed than anything Apple offers.

Would Musk be interested in being part of Apple while Tesla is on top of the world? Tesla just received nearly $20 billion in orders for its Model 3, a record for any product in history. Musk reportedly turned down an acquisition offer from Google in 2013 when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Why would he consider such an offer now, from Apple?

I guess he would if offered the position of general manager. A combination of a COO like Cook and a visionary like Musk would be great. Apple’s vast resources would allow Tesla to scale up operations to deliver the nearly 400,000 orders it has received for the Model 3. Tesla would be able to leverage Apple’s global distribution network and integrate many new technologies. Musk could pursue his dream projects while Cook worried about delivery and details.

And Cook would have the visionary that Apple badly needs, someone even a cut above Steve Jobs. The markets would rejoice and lift Apple’s stock to a level higher than anything they’ve seen before. Consider that Tesla’s market capitalization of $33 billion is eminently affordable for Apple, which has reserves of over $200 billion. And Apple lost $47 billion in valuation with its earnings announcement on Tuesday, which is more than it would likely cost to acquire Tesla.

It could be a marriage made in heaven. We would get innovations that would change the world as well as our space colonies.

© 2016 The Washington Post


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