Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently chastised Apple’s latest products, and virtually scoffed at the idea Apple was taking any serious talent from the company. Less than a week later Musk backtracked on those comments. No doubt his PR team got a hold of Musk and demanded he dial back his ego and frustration, but the damage was already done. Telsa’s best years may no longer be ahead of them, as the company is likely to be outflanked by Apple, who has more resources, and as much drive to do something truly great, than anyone in any market.
Like Blackberry, Tesla may quickly become that 320-pound lineman, with amazing speed and agility, opening gaping holes for the running back. The only problem is, now that Tesla has done the heavy lifting, Apple with their impeccable timing, seems poised to be the swift running back who will bolt right though all of Tesla’s up-front work, stealing the show.
Many are scoffing at the idea that Tesla can be easily overtaken by Apple or anyone in, or soon to be joining, the electric auto industry. But it was also Blackberry, which was once so popular, the smartphones garnered the name "Crackberry" because of the inability for business people to live without one. Apple’s iPhone launched, and a myriad of scoffers emerged. Nothing could topple BlackBerry. The Canadian-based company also thought Apple’s virtual keyboard was fool-hearty, and stubbornly pushed forward with physical keyboards. It was not long after iPhone started to make its presence felt, that Blackberry launched its own me-too iPhone called Storm. It failed miserably, and it marked the beginning of the end to Blackberry. A company that trail-blazed an industry with astute and well targeted smartphone email abilities was swiftly run over by Apple.
Tesla’s CEO did not mean to hurt his company by lashing out at Apple, but he did it anyway. Recent downgrades of Telsa have put enormous pressure on the company to deliver. The company’s stressed production capabilities also put its growth capabilities at risk, as larger players enter the market. Apple, with its virtually limitless resources, appear to be entering the market sooner than even Musk may have originally thought. Less than a year ago, rumors started to emerge that Apple was tinkering around with the idea of a car. Today, it seems Apple is poised to pounce on the market any time.
Musk’s worst fear would seem to revolved around Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3. The car, which is aimed at being a compact 4-door sedan, targeting a $35,000 price range, is due to launch sometime in 2017. However, Apple is likely to announce their vehicle around the same timeframe, potentially stiffing Tesla sales, as would-be buyers wait to compare the new Tesla to Apple’s offering. Apple’s marketing arm, technology know-how, and ability to enter and completely disrupt a market is unprecedented, and Musk is fully aware.
Tesla may turn into a niche player overnight, surpassed by Apple’s disruptive abilities, while luxury makers target sales to finish off Tesla’s bread and butter Model S. Given Tesla’s resources, numerous delays, and ability to expand, Apple seems poised to utilize Tesla’s up-front work as a foundation to leap over and beyond. At the very least, this is a battle Apple appears to be poised to win from any angle.
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