Over the last 18 months, Apple’s mergers and acquisitions chief, Adrian Perica, has been frantically seeking out everything from search engines to motion-tracking chips. This buying frenzy has created quite a buzz in the tech field about where Apple is heading next. While most speculations surround wearables or a new Apple TV, the company appears to be working much more broadly.
A source informed The Chronicle that Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with Perica nearly a year ago, around the same time analysts suggested Apple look into the electric car pioneer. An acquisition of, or even a partnership with, Tesla is definitely a big jump in a new direction for Apple. This move takes them away from smartphones and tablets, a quickly maturing market with increasing competition, and towards much bigger risks, with potentially greater payoffs.
While a foray into wearables might make the most sense, some analysts are suggesting that electric cars and even medical devices, another area of interest, might actually be the way to go. Considering the recent interest in things like Car Mode for iOS7 or the integration of the Siri Eyes Free application in multiple car manufacturers, an extension into electric cars seems logical.
German investment banking analyst Adnaan Ahmad stated in an open letter to Apple, “I know this is radical and potentially ‘transformative’ but this would radically alter Apple’s growth profile. … In Elon Musk, you could strike up a partnership and obtain a new iconic partner to lead Apple’s innovation drive.”
A few months before Ahmad’s letter, Apple was already in the midst of meetings with Musk. While a megadeal has yet to be forged, such high-level meetings imply that something is definitely in the works. Patents have also been requested to develop the technology to unlock an iPhone or similar device using the owner’s unique electrical heart signals. Additionally, the company appears to be investigating Apple technology that could measure noise “turbulence” in blood flow, or the sound blood makes as it moves through an artery, in order to predict heart problems.
However, no matter how exciting this potential Tesla acquisition sounds, it’s hard to see where the electric car giant benefits. With access to Wall Street and rising sales of the Model S, Tesla doesn’t seem to need the deep pockets at Apple that they would gain entry to through a buyout. While a full on acquisition may seem unnecessary from Tesla’s side, a partnership between the two companies seems like a much more productive idea.
A partnership could involve Apple’s influence on the Tesla touch screen, an integration of Apple products like the “Eyes Free” technology GM is already testing out, or a syncing with other devices at home. With Tesla’s history of snatching up Apple executives and engineers like marketing guru George Blankenship, these symbols of Silicon Valley success are becoming more alike by the minute, to the point at which a partnership seems expected.
[Editor’s Note: Since this article was written Elon Musk has stated that a sale of Tesla to Apple is “very unlikely”; however, he did say that Apple making cars would be a “great idea.”]
[Sources: SF Gate, Tier10Lab, Tier10Lab]