Elon Musk, the controversial celebrity entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla CEO, had a time-out with Recode’s Kara Swisher but did nothing strange like smoking weed or passing out in his car after bingeing—he revealed a top secret about Apple Inc.
Image shows Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher and Elon Musk
Musk had really good reasons to take some time out of his busy schedule. He had been boosting Tesla Model 3 production and running SpaceX.
In the hour-long interview with Swisher, Musk figuratively attacked Tesla’s Silicon Valley neighbor, Apple, saying his company’s closest rival is worlds apart in terms of financial strength.
Talking about productivity, value creation, customer satisfaction and sustainability, Musk remarked that there are no longer many appealing products in global markets.
‘There are not many things you can buy with maximum satisfaction guaranteed. Apple did that a long time ago. Agreed. But I do think, and it’s obvious to see, that Apple Inc makes great phones,’ he said.
Comparing quality, attractiveness and consumer satisfaction, Musk noted that has a strategic plan to produce cars that can appeal and make people really happy.
‘Till date, I still use an iPhone and other products from Apple, but the company could have done more. They used to have gadgets that blew people’s minds, you know?’
He continued, ‘I admit the still make “great products”, but there’s less of that.’
Musk then predicted that Apple’s next iPhone, which he called the “iPhone 11,” might not draw as much consumer attention – at least compared with Tesla’s famous 450,000-long Model 3 waiting list.
Image: Elon Musk
‘I don’t think people are necessarily running to the store for the iPhone 11. But I think with Tesla, we really want to make products that people just love, that are heart-stopping,’ Musk said.
Musk has sniped at Apple in the past, calling it the “Tesla graveyard,” suggesting that employees that couldn’t hack it at his company went to work at Apple. But employees go back and forth between the companies all the time. In August, Doug Field, a former Tesla engineering executive who oversaw Model 3 production, ended up back at Apple.
Musk may be tapping into a growing view on Apple products. This year, when the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max went on sale, the lines outside Apple stores were not as long as they used to be. When the less expensive iPhone XR – the “Model 3” to the iPhone XR’s “Model S” – was released a month later, there weren’t lines at all.
Still, Apple would probably argue that “running to the store” doesn’t accurately capture consumer interest for the iPhone, instead pointing to smaller surveys that say customer satisfaction for the iPhone is 98%.
But that criticism may sting a little bit more coming from a Silicon Valley legend who makes cars that Apple’s own employees love.