The striking similarities between Apple and Tesla

“Imagine a company that specializes in selling high-end technology products, that is supported by a cultish group of devoted fans, and that’s run by a notoriously demanding CEO who’s hellbent on changing the world,” Brad Reed writes for BGR. “That sounds a lot like Apple under Steve Jobs, doesn’t it? It sure does, but it could also be used to describe Tesla under CEO Elon Musk right now.”

“And those aren’t the only similarities, as Stratechery’s Ben Thompson makes clear in a fascinating new essay comparing the two companies,” Reed writes. “Thompson makes a compelling argument that Tesla has forced the rest of the automobile industry to completely rethink the concept of the car just as Apple forced the mobile phone industry to completely rethink its own products after the launch of the iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Can we marvel at what Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has accomplished? Nearly 300,000 people have willingly parted with $1,000 despite the fact they will not have a chance to purchase a car for years; an astounding 115,000 of them sent in their deposit before they even knew what the car looked like,” Ben Thompson writes for Stratechery. “A friend got in line to make his reservation at 6:45am and there were 123 people in front of him. This is, no matter how you measure it, a phenomenon that is nearly unprecedented; the only possible comparison is Apple and its iPhone.”

Thompson writes, “Long lines and fans committed to ordering new products sight-unseen are not the only things Tesla and Apple have in common: both companies have been doubted for allegedly not understanding Disruption Theory; both, though, are proving that Disruption Theory does not have all the answers, particularly when it comes to consumer markets.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Just wait until Apple takes on Tesla:

Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… Mass hysteria!


  1. TESLA hasn’t even released the specs on the souped up version – just minimum specs. I bet that there will be a bigger battery version that does 280 miles and 0 to 60 in 3 seconds – and that it will be sold out through 2018-19 from the moment it launches.

    1. This Telsa claim to fame story needed to squeeze out into the mindset of the public and read like the CEO had forced the world to change as Jobs did for phones – why because – Apple is about to do so exactly that. And when it does, no one will care what Telsa was or did. It is Apple and sadly to admit Google who have pressed forward and actually pushed Telsa into rethinking things. High end cars have always had a market. There are cars being built exclusively in Dubai that would crush Telsa’s dreams. I am proud of Telsa and that it is an North American auto company spurring a different level and type of car… but that was all a rather natural risk to move into – with Asia offering all its electric hybrids and such – Apple did not decide to make a luxury phone – it decided to change how a phone is used and perceived. Comparing that to how Telsa entered the market – they came to bat with merely an American styling to automotives – not making a dent in the universe.

    1. You DO realize that EVERY car manufacturer gets the first 200,000 electric cars @ $7500 off, right?

      That includes the BMW i3, the new Chevy Bolt, The new Apple Car ( if they are building a car ), any Honda, Hyundai, or Hongqi.

      1. Tesla is subsidized by the Gov’t created, artificial market in carbon tax credits. Musk gets big bucks by selling his carbon tax credits to other companies.

  2. Dr. Land of Polaroid invented the mass hysteria launch with the Instant Camera long before Steve Jobs. Polaroid was the model for Jobs with Apple. It was the first great American consumer technology company. The other company that Jobs modeled was Sony. Both Polaroid and Sony made insanely great products, packaged them like they were jewelry and sold them at premium prices.

    1. Well said bullwinkle.
      With Tesla selling high end electric luxury cars with American styling and taste; in my opinion, that marketing direction was a natural risk to take. Telsa merely mimics Apples fan parade as did Apple Sony and Polaroid. “Greatness by standing on the shoulder of Giants” is a far less feat than building success from the ground up and maintaining it for decades plus building a world wide consumer rally for insanely great products. Its far too easy to look at similarities and basically suggest to people successful companies require their CEOs to be demanding bastards. Steve Job’s second coming to Apple was a different Jobs – it is well documented he was a far more lenient, calm, open, kinder, nicer CEO on his return to Apple then when he was so young. Jobs matured and when he did he was 40x more successful then before. Telsa has a CEO with demanding personality merely because sales are not as good as he hoped.

  3. Yeah isn’t Tesla reliant on government subsidies and tax breaks to sell products in an industry that has already existed for 100+ years?

    Totally the same as Apple!

    The only similarity is that Tesla announcements excite people the way Apple Keynotes used to.

    1. nah dog. Sure, tesla buyers get 7500 back in taxes, but don’t forget they are spending anywhere from 59,000 to 140,000 for their car. 7500 bucks is a, mind the pun, dent. When this 35,000 dollar car comes out that 7500 will certainly factor more into people’s conscious, but for the statement you made about Tesla being reliant on government subsidies to sell their products…thats horse shit. They have been doing extremely well for the past 8 years, and it is because of their devotion to technology and standard of quality…not because of a tax break.

    2. The tax breaks expire when the company sells its 200,000th car. Congress could change this, but that’s how it is today. The subsidies are meant to give the new tech a leg up. Sounds like good government to me.

      1. I agree it’s the only way for new and superior technologies to be given a chance against dated but mature and entrenched ones when the former has far greater potential. Sitting on old tech is usually the way developed technicalogical countries start to fall behind new comers, indeed it’s how the US gained its lead so it’s a vital let alone sensible policy. However there are grave doubts that Tesla will ever actually make a profit which will be it’s true hurdle especially after it loses that subsidy. It needs to grow at an enormous rate to hit true economies of scale and provide a base for profit. However it is probably less likely than simply racking up equally enormous debt. Only by keeping well ahead of the opposition who are bigger with other ways to support and finance this sector, increase mindshare even further and considerable luck will they be around and independent in ten years.

  4. How come Apple’s share price doesn’t jump on pre-orders? With Tesla, pre-orders seem to be like money already in the bank.

    Oh, wait… It’s basically Elon Musk vs Tim Cook, so I should know better. Anything Elon Musk says is believed. Anything Tim Cook says is doubted.

  5. Tesla is good on design and technology. Similar to Apple.
    They are poor on production. That is where Apple has excelled since Jobs and TC took over in 1997. It took them about six years to really start to kick ass but now Apple can churn millions of units a month.

  6. Apple and Tesla working together, both focusing on their individual strengths and making each companies’ products better is much much more interesting to me than the two companies competing.
    Apple does not need to make their version of every product in the world.

            1. Ahhh picture press – cool – smaller does-ith work.
              Yet, me thought, this is word press.
              A picture says a thousand words – yet a few words are sharper to the point.

            2. Ha! WordPress needs some work, obviously. I’m used to posting pictures into Blogger pages where the interface smashes them down to suitable size. Apparently, WordPress isn’t as sophisticated in that respect.

  7. If Ben Thompson read the commentary regarding his fine analytical piece, he would have sworn he had been forced to teach a bunch of door knobs about economics.

  8. I have said a few times in MDN already many years ago (when Steve was still alive) that Steve Jobs is the greatest entrepreneur of this century so far and Elon Musk is his only worthy heir.

    Wozzie is great in other ways =)

      1. Why is Telsa ramping up R&D? Because Telsa knows Apple has them on their radar. Telsa is the one here being forced to compete and improve – in a arena where Apple hasn’t even shown what it has. So who really is pushing who? Telsa knows if Apple offers anything – it will be a huge competitor to them.

    1. What do you mean, crony capitalism? Tesla has the same “business” model as, say, Trabant or Solyndra. What could possibly go wrong? The average schmuck working three low-wage jobs to support his family should feel proud that his taxes are going to subsidize new conspicuous ecology status symbols for the one percent. That’s what Murrica is all about, dammit.

  9. I typically love and agree with most of MDNs take on things, but I have to disagree on this one.

    The more I test drive a Tesla, the more I realize there’s little Apple could do to improve the experience and a LOT that Apple could be unprepared for with a motor vehicle. The Tesla really is head and shoulders above and beyond other luxury vehicles by a country mile (I drive Mercedes today). Sure they could tweak the UI a bit and have Apple music instead of the other offerings, but that wouldn’t make me buy their car. Tesla also has the charging infrastructure (superchargers) that nobody else has or will have, public charging stations are a pale comparison. There’s so much more to it that an “upstart” like Apple can’t just walk in at parity – all the self driving stuff takes millions of miles of data and roadwork and polish that they simply won’t have on day one or after year one.

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