At Apple’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, multiple investors questioned chief executive officer Tim Cook about the prospects of Apple one day owning Tesla, to which Mr. Cook attempted to shuffle around answering.
"We don't really have a relationship with them,” Cook replied when asked about Apple’s affiliation to Tesla’s co-founder Elon Musk. “I'd love Tesla to pick up CarPlay. We now have every major auto brand committing to use CarPlay, and maybe Tesla would want to do that." Adding, "Was that a good way to avoid the question?"
While the audience responded with laughter, it was not enough to keep another unidentified shareholder from pressing the issue further.
As The Verge reports, a few minutes later, an investor stepped up to the mic and likened his enthusiasm over his Tesla Model S to when he put down a deposit for one of the first Macs in 1984, “Every time I see it, it blows my mind.... Am I insane to think something might happen here?"
"Let me think if there's another way for me to not answer this question," Cook replied jokingly. "We're very focused on CarPlay."
In case you were wondering, CarPlay is Apple’s attempt to have people stare at the roads, not their iPhone. A dashboard screen allows drivers to plug in their iPhones to utilize features such as playing music or using Apple Maps. Apple has been courting multiple car manufactures to begin integrating the iOS-powered dashboard, including Tesla.
Apple purchasing Tesla would make sense, beyond the fact that both companies have made big names for themselves in their respective fields.
There's evidence that Apple is creating its own car, and even possibly a driverless car to compete with Google’s. The first clue hinting at Apple’s interest in autonomous vehicles arrived when a van decked out with high-tech sensors – much like the type used in other self-driving vehicles – was seen driving on California roads. It was later reported by the Wall Street Journal that Apple recruited “several hundred employees” for its code-named “Titan” project, which is thought to be associated with a possible driverless car. And to top things off, Apple is also currently in a lawsuit with A123 involving poaching the electric-car-batterymaker’s engineers.
Additionally, Apple and Tesla have been chasing each other’s talent for a while now, so why not play nice and end the poaching with a merger? Apple certainly has enough cash (around $180 billion) currently burning a hole in its pockets.
Well, what is the biggest obstacle keeping Apple from claiming Tesla as its own? For one thing, Mr. Musk.
When asked if he “was for sale” in a phone interview with Bloomberg, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO said it was “unlikely.”
"We had conversations with Apple," Musk says, refusing to give specifics about the conversation. "When you stay super focused on achieving a compelling mass-market electric car, I'd be very concerned in any acquisition scenario, whoever it is, that we may become distracted from that task, which has always been the driving goal of Tesla."
As Business Insider points out, Musk and Cook have very different goals in the grand scheme of things. Apple is interested in making innovative gizmos and turning a profit, while Musk has set out to fundamentally change how and where the human race can travel with less of a focus on earnings.
Even if Musk did express explicit interest in being bought out, it might turn out to be an odd match. After all, Apple fired its own CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs in 1985 when he became unrelenting with his vision. It is hard to imagine a hybrid of Steve Jobs and Tony Stark lasting long in a headstrong company such as Apple.