Elon Musk takes jabs at Apple during Tesla earnings call


Tesla CEO Elon Musk took two potshots at Apple during a quarterly earnings conference call on Monday, noting the batteries in his company’s cars use less cobalt than devices made by the tech giant.

Musk referenced Apple when questioned about Tesla’s supply chain, specifically the use of cobalt — a mineral whose mining is often linked to human rights abuses — in lithium-ion batteries, reports CNBC.

“Apple uses I think almost 100% cobalt in their batteries and cell phones and laptops, but Tesla uses no cobalt in the iron-phosphate packs, and almost none in the nickel-based chemistries,” Musk said. “On on a weighted-average basis we might use 2% cobalt compared to say, Apple’s 100% cobalt. Anyway, so it’s just really not a factor.”

Though not considered a “conflict mineral” by U.S. standards, cobalt is sometimes linked to child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Apple in 2016 came under fire for allegedly buying batteries from a Chinese manufacturer that sourced its cobalt from an offending producer in the DRC.

Apple, along with Dell, Google, Microsoft and Tesla, were sued in 2019 for allegedly doing business with battery suppliers despite knowing that cobalt used in the production of purchased parts was mined by children.

For its part, Apple says audits the source of conflict minerals and removes smelters and refiners unwilling to participate in third-party audits from its supply chain. In a disclosure to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year, the tech giant said 100% of cobalt suppliers agreed to audits.

Musk later in today’s call took a crack at Apple’s so-called “walled garden” approach to hardware and software.

When asked about allowing competitors to use Tesla’s Supercharger network, Musk said, “I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy. It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors which is used by some companies.”

He gave a fake cough and said, “Apple.”

Apple is under scrutiny for its strict enforcement of platform policy. App Store fees, rules against third-party storefronts and monopoly issues are at the heart of a high-profile lawsuit lodged by Epic Games and fall afoul of proposed U.S. legislation targeting Big Tech.

Musk has a rich history of lobbing chaffing comments at the iPhone maker. In 2015, more than a year after rumors claimed Apple was in talks to buy Tesla, Musk in an interview downplayed the threat of a so-called “Apple Car” and rebuffed claims that Apple poached important engineers for the secret automotive project.

“Important engineers? They have hired people we’ve fired,” Musk said at the time. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”

Last year, the Tesla and SpaceX founder revealed that he once reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook to gauge interest in an acquiring the electric carmaker. Cook declined the request. Apple is still rumored to be moving forward with its branded car initiative.

AppleInsider has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

Yeah, I kinda doubt Apple would be interested in being acquired by Tesla.

Wall garden (cough) can we load our own software on a Tesla or sell software on the Tesla? Just curious. Not that I’d want to.

If nothing else, it’s entertaining. But maybe, just maybe, it’ll stick in Apple’s craw enough that they will push even harder on their supply chain and rethink the use of cobalt in their battery design. Would be great if it also lit a fire under their collective bellies to knuckle under and push the elusive Apple car across the finish line.

Really Elon, walled garden? Yeah so Apple’s chargers are already compatible with competition. Apple allows a Tesla app on their AppStore, but your car does not allow CarPlay. How’s that for a walled garden… Mr. Cybertruck armored glass 😀

I wonder how much money Apple gets from the US government from subsidies?

Intel on Monday provided details on its plan to catch up to specialist foundries like Apple partner TSMC, announcing new deals to make chips for Qualcomm and Amazon on its way to a roadmapped industry lead by 2025.

A pair of top writers and producers who worked on “The Office” have credited Apple’s first video iPod with boosting the show’s popularity in its early days.

Keep your small devices going through extended power outages with the high-capacity PowerZeus 500 Portable Power Station.

With the launch of the Beats Studio Buds, Apple now has a total of four wireless earbuds it sells to consumers. Here’s how the newcomers face against AirPods, AirPods Pro, and Beats Powerbeats Pro.

Sony launched the WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds in June, its noise-cancelling rival to the Apple AirPods Pro. Here’s how Sony’s latest stacks up against Apple’s heavy hitter.

Apple has evolved its remote control over time, with each iteration introducing physical improvements and better features. After launching the second-generation Siri Remote, has Apple created its best controller?

In April, Amazon upgraded its Echo Buds to make it a better value-oriented rival to Apple’s AirPods. Here’s how Amazon’s offerings stack up to Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro.

Apple’s launch of AirTag puts it into a growing market of tracking accessories, but how does it compare against the Tile Pro and the Find My-enabled Chipolo One Spot? We compare the trackers.

[Read More…]