Business

Apple considered acquiring electric car maker Tesla (rumor)

Above: A Tesla Model S.

Image Credit: Daniel Piraino via photopin

Apple’s head of acquisitions, Adrian Perica, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the spring of 2013, apparently over a possible acquisition of the electric car manufacturer.

Or so the San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning, citing a single unnamed source.

The high level meeting, which “probably” included Apple CEO Tim Cook, suggests that wild speculation in the fall, stirred up after European financial analyst Andaan Ahmad wrote an open letter advising Apple to buy or partner with Tesla, might have been partly accurate.

Ahmad’s reasoning was pretty straightforward: The electric vehicle market would, he said, give Apple an opportunity to make a whole lot more money, something that he doubted was possible from selling mobile devices in the long run. Doing so could open a vast new market for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, he said.

Despite the rumor’s age — nearly a year has gone by, after all, without an announcement — Apple’s interest in the electric car manufacturing business deserves some consideration. As Ahmad suggested, Apple’s iPhone sales have suffered as of late, despite the company’s still-growing revenue and strong profits.

But it’s hard to know if such a departure from what Apple has proven to be quite good at — personal computers and mobile devices — would prove successful. Remember, over the years Apple has endured several embarrassing failures, including an attempt to get into the gaming console business.

Apple wouldn’t be the first smartphone developer to explore the auto market. Google is pursuing its self-driving vehicle, nicknamed by the San Jose Mercury News the “Justin Bieber” of the car world for its apparent celebrity. At this point the search giant has no immediate plans to bring such a product to market. Currently, it is legal only to test self-driving cars in a few states, not sell them.

The Apple rumor isn’t the only one floating around about Tesla. Over the December holidays, automotive trade publications were speculating that a Detroit-based manufacturer may be eying Tesla as well.

Apple and Tesla declined to comment on the rumors.


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