Should Apple buy Tesla because of the shortage of lithium for batteries?
A theory is making the round again, that Apple should buy Tesla Motors. The connection? Both depend on lithium ion batteries to power the gizmos sold by each company. A recent news report suggested the boom in iPad sales, as well as electric and hybrid car sales, was contributing to a jump in lithium prices. A press release today from Nova Mining Corp suggests the run-up on lithium prices could cause Apple and Tesla to merge because both companies require "massive amounts of lithium".
In other words, both companies use lithium ion batteries as a key component in their respective products. The upswing of both electrified vehicles and modern electronics gizmos is in part due to growing capabilities of lithium ion batteries, and dependent on the supply of these batteries. Does this mean Tesla and Apple should merge? Not necessarily, but there are some other interesting overlaps between the companies.
Both companies sell their products through retail stores that lean heavily on "experiencing" the product. This is different from traditional product sales models, and it may not be surprising to learn that George Blankenship, Tesla’s vice president of ownership experience, was formerly an executive with Apple overseeing that company's retail stores. Blankenship has described in the Inside Tesla blog posts that the goal for Tesla's stores is to create an environment in which people want to hang out and learn, rather than an environment in which they're pushed. If that sounds like an Apple Store, there's a reason for this.
The 17" screen in the Tesla Model S is being described by some as iPad-like. In a broader sense, modern cars are infotainment systems on wheels, and it's clear that Apple has a thought or two about building highly popular mobile infotainment systems. What would a car dashboard built on the iOS platform be like?
It's been suggested by some that Elon Musk is the next Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was a visionary perfectionist with a strong streak of design minimalism who was clearly capable of leading the development of a line of highly popular electronics gizmos (iPod, iPhone, iPad). Elon Musk is also a visionary perfectionist, with a strong streak of design style, but does this make him the next Steve Jobs, or does this make him Elon Musk? Musk is operating in a different sphere than Jobs. Where Jobs worked on the problem of how we relate with our electronics gizmos, Musk is working on the long-term survival of the human species, and pushing the boundaries on problems that have plagued us for decades. Which of Elon Musks goals be satisfied by becoming associated with Apple?