Why did Facebook buy Instagram? Because Instagram was (a) mobile only, not just “mobile first”, and Facebook was lopsided on the desktop usage at the time; and (b) because Instagram was eating up huge chunks of the image sharing space, which Facebook had realized early on was their main stickiness and attraction. So Zuck paid $1B for a 2 year old company with 13 employees.
Why would Apple buy Telsa? Very similar reasons. What’s Tesla’s main value proposition? No, it’s not the facts that they sell direct, have great features, offer a beautiful and expensive automobile, or that Consumer Reports has ranked the Model S “The Best Car in the World” two years in a row. Nope. It’s the battery. Ever driven or ridden in a Tesla? It’s a battery that powers that jet that slams your head against the headrest. A battery. The Tesla Model S is a freaking JET. And it’s powered by a battery.
What does Apple care about a battery? OK, that’s a little too easy. Everything Apple makes is battery operated. Do you really not think that Tesla is eyeing what else they can power with their jet propulsion batteries? The possibilities are endless, but there’s one big place that Tesla is already looking at, and not keeping it secret: the home. That’s right, it’s really Honda that should be shaking in their boots. Would you rather have a noisy Honda gas-powered generator powering your home or a beautiful, silent, efficient Tesla battery? That’s what I thought. And don’t think for a minute that Elon Musk is not considering other ways to charge that home battery that don’t include local power companies.
Now think about how “powering homes and buildings” becomes a thing that someone other than “the power company” can do.
But wait. There’s more. Apple makes the best and most popular mobile devices in their iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks, right? So ask yourself what’s the next area of “connectedness” on the radar? More specific than the “Internet of Things”, it’s the home and then the car. Those are the two places most adults spend the vast majority of their time. What do you use to control your Nest, your wearable devices, your hot tub, your lights…? You use your iPhone.
But how do you connect with your car?
Today, most of us just don’t. But, again, have you ever driven or ridden in a Tesla? It’s powered by connected software. Tesla pushes out updates to the software that drives their cars, just like Apple pushes out iOS updates to its mobile devices.
How do you connect with your car? You don’t, but you will.
Who’s going to own that experience? Apple. And they’ll make it a great experience, likely driven by an iOS-powered mobile device.
Keep in mind, in 2007, after the iPod took the world by storm, Apple Computer, Inc. became Apple, Inc. Apple is about far more than computers. Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk shines a particular light on exactly how Apple made this metamorphosis from “computer” to consumer electronic experiences. Apple’s “why”, as explained by Sinek, is exactly why Apple should – and I believe will – acquire Tesla.