Is Apple building a battery division to take on Tesla?

“Investors might be too focused on Apple Inc.’s rumored automobile to realize that the company might be more interested in developing high-end batteries for consumer electronics,” Louis Bedigian reports for Benzinga.

“Earlier this year A123 Systems sued Apple and five former employees who allegedly violated an NDA (nondisclosure agreement),” Bedigian reports. “According to Reuters, the lawsuit claimed that “Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123. That quote was practically buried under the mountain of automobile-related rumors, but it has resurfaced now that Apple and A123 Systems have decided to settle their lawsuit. And it could hold an entirely new meaning for investors now that Tesla Motors Inc. has unveiled its Powerwall home battery.”

Apple battery“Tech industry expert and analyst Jeff Kagan thinks this could be a good venture for Apple, but only if its own technology was truly superior,” Bedigian reports. “‘If they have a technology that will be better than traditional battery technology and they apply the Apple brand to it, they obviously will have a big chance for industry success,’ Kagan told Benzinga.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Almost anything is now possible with Apple and their war chest, however, the battery conundrum will require a Herculean breakthrough.

17 Comments

  1. I think Apple has realized that in addition to designing its own hardware, producing its own OS and software, and designing its own processor, they also need to design and own the battery too if they want to take things to the next level.

    1. Actually it may not. If anyone can come up with a pure enough process to turn Barium Titanate into a workable battery, the potential is huge. Imagine a battery pack which charges in 10 minutes, gets cold rather than hot when charging, and has 2-4 times the current power density of any lithium battery and think what that would do to the automotive industry. Other ultra capacitor designs may be as good or better. The first company to crack that wall is the clear winner no matter what. The potential is worth a trillion dollars all by itself.

      1. I read this with great interest. However I was less enthusiastic when I looked this technology up with the promise of this being promised with great fanfare in 2007 no less with little of note but promises since. I hope you are right but little to indicate it as yet.

        1. The original company who was working with barium titanate, EEStor, was a complete disappointment, but if anyone has the funds an ability to find the right people to get it back on track or find a better alternative, it is Apple. Finding the right super capacitor/battery is the holy grail of tech. Solve that and the next multi trillion dollar company is born.

    1. Sliverhawk1 – you are absolutely right. Apple has had a subsidiary in Japan for at least a decade that is devoted to battery development. Both Steve and Tim have made vague references to it – “we control our own battery chemistry” – so this isn’t anything new. Why is it that “journalists” who claim to follow Apple know so damn little about it??

  2. Anything is possible. To me it’s kinda like gravity vs quantum. AFAIK Apple is tits at small batteries and Tesla is the sh!t at big batteries. Big and small don’t always reconcile. So the big question IS does it serve Apple’s interests to expend resources into large batteries, does it serve Tesla’s interests to expend resources in small batteries?!?! Could be that Apple & Tesla could make a smaller big battery and/or a bigger (powerful) small battery

    1. You need to read up on Teslas approach to their battery packs. Essentially, they are about 8,000 cells, similar to AAs, but about twice as large. Tesla doesn’t power their cars with large format Li-Ion batteries.

  3. No matter how good your battery is today, 4-5 years out one of the many dozens of groups working on new battery technologies will obsolete what we have today. That means a dedicated factory now will have to retool in 5 years or so and that is expensive.

    Hence, I don’t know if Apple will actually do that in a big way. It is a business which could be great if Apple owns all of its technology, but who knows.

    1. Tends to suggest that massive production of a given design in a relatively short run. Doesn’t sound like that would work well for an Apple produced car with unique Apple produced batteries I have to say. Sounds more like a generic battery producer who would and could sell as many batteries to as many clients as possible. Very un Apple but who knows.

  4. With Apple’s penchant for smaller/slimmer, they need better battery tech. They brought chip design in-house because major guys couldn’t keep up. I suspect Apple’s main goal is focused on their current portable devices, but any new and improved battery tech will have ramifications for all power storage applications.

  5. If so, waste of billions of dollars.

    Better they build solar power plants around the world, with the goal of suppling 70% of the worlds need. This would be way better than Apple TV, for capturing those re-occurring dollars.
    Hum, what is the worlds power need, at a nickel a kilowatt, for 70% of that, how much money is that? for 25 years? Hum?
    Let oil, gas, and coal have the nights and cloudy days. Battery just another disposal problem waiting to happen.
    Ok, true, the solar panels could be a disposal problem, but hopefully someone at apple will think solar thermal.

    Now, if they want to spend on superconductivity, that’s a go.

  6. Check out “Mysteries of the Unseen World” on Netflix.

    We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Brings a whole new meaning to nano technology. Moving around individual atoms? Ponder that scenario.

  7. Left out of the battery conversation are a couple issues:

    1) The old exploding/swelling/leaking battery problem. I can’t imagine Apple will ever again leave their batteries in third party hands. Apple owns its own battery division (formerly Mallory Lithium).

    2) Battery engineering: Apple can do whatever it likes, in total secrecy, with its batteries. It’s dependent on no one to do their battery engineering for them.

    Does Apple want to sell their batteries in an of themselves, making this comparing of Apple batteries to others relevant? Maybe not! As usual, the analysts are flying around in an imaginary, virtual world of thought. That must be fun, but it could be entirely irrelevant.

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