Is Tesla the next Apple?

Is Tesla the next Apple?

We have debated quite a few times parallels between those two companies. I tried to lay down my thoughts about that topic as an article at Seeking Alpha (an investor oriented site). I touch to technical aspects of the Model S and to Tesla's strategy as I see it. I hope this will start a nice discussion here or on SA comment thread.

Thank in advance for your comments.

Timo | August 17, 2011

Lets see if I can post here....

Mike_ModelS_P457 | August 17, 2011

I actually see Telsa more like Virgin Atlantic. They are coming into a highly established industry with a new way of thinking, looking, selling and acting with the goal of challenging an establishment and winning market share. In the end, however different Tesla may seem or look, they are still making cars. They have already made EVs seem more reasonable and attainable, and are making the case for the better value and service / technology innovations while not being "budget;" which is where I would have put JetBlue in the analogy. Apple has seldom actually been first to market with an idea, they just market better and have a stronger branding machine than most, if not all, of their competitors or comparators.

I haven't fleshed my thoughts out too much more on this, but my gut tells me that the Apple retail model may be a guide for Tesla's stores, but because their business model is something else entirely. After all, this is a very different type of product and industry (and price point even at the lowest levels). Apple's innovations are more in the branding of their product and their corporate culture, than in the actual product itself. Tesla's innovation is more about challenging paradigms that have long existed and breaking in not as a low cost alternative or a green alternative, but as a forward-looking and innovative company with a product capable of beating the traditional leaders at their own game; it is Virgin going from NY to London!

Most companies, large and small, claim they are forward looking / innovative / smart / pick a positive sounding business buzz word. IBM, Google, GE, Siemens, Ford, Chevy, HP even Walmart talk about their innovation and thinking in developing their products or services. Investors love it and consumers buy it. There needs to be more to a company than a brand identity; it lives in their products. Surely, any company would love to have the passion of the Apple brand evangelists behind them. However, we're talking about a totally different buying cycle and price point. As price and longevity goes up, so to does the burden on the product. If the iPad2 is a little off, that's fine, there will be an iPad3 coming out soon. If a $65k car is a little dodgy the company will go the way of the dodo in no time.

Brad Holt | August 17, 2011

Mike, you're my hero.

Nicu | August 17, 2011

Mike, I appreciate your thoughts. But I dare to contradict you about Apple.

If you look at the iPhone (and the iPad) and do not see anything fundamentally different from the smartphones of 2006/2007, when the BlackBerry was the king of the hill, you are completely outside this business. Since the iPhone, Apple broke down established players like RIMM, Nokia, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson and LG. A company cannot get bigger than Exxon on hot air alone (marketing and evangelists).

If the iPad2 was not good enough, they could lose grip of this market that will replace the venerable PC during the following 5 years. It's the difference between iPod vs. Zune and Macintosh vs. Windows. This is the bet of the century in consumer electronics / personal computing.

Timo | August 17, 2011

I see Tesla as Tesla, not some lame Apple that was brink of the bankrupt few years ago, and because of the short-sightness can be that again very soon. Apples weakness is that it doesn't share. Everything in Apple gizmos have to be manufactured and designed by Apple. When someone makes a succesful clone of the iPad etc. with a little bit less money (which is easy, when you are talking about Apple gizmos) they are again facing bankrupt. Sure, they are up now, but that wont last, not with that attitude.

Tesla shares. Tesla welcomes everyone to EV industry, they practically force everyone to follow. They make deals with others. Their technology and designs will be used in other manufactures cars. They also make their own cars. With that strategy they pretty much can't fail if they survive few first years, and to me it looks like that few years are already gone, they can't fail anymore.

Mike_ModelS_P457 | August 18, 2011

@Nicu, I do agree that the iPhone was a fundamental shift, and only Apple could have pulled it off when they did. RIM tried with the poorly named, and even worse to use, Storm. The iPad isn't as amazing and new for me. Once again, Apple used their marketing machine to make a big splash, but tablet-like PCs have been used for years. Panasonic's ToughBook had tablet functionality years ago. What Apple does best is take a decent idea, which has been poorly executed, and execute it in a customer friendly way with great hype, while drawing on their loyal customer base (I have an iPhone, iPad, and still use my iPod... and I want a Macbook air; turns out I'm one of the loyalists, I just didn't know I was until just now).

What Tesla is doing is more about being a challenger brand against an established industry; that is the crux of my argument that they are more VA than Apple.

I'll take it from another angle, and where I think my original gut feeling came from:

The CEOs (e.g. personality of the company):
If you look at the CEOs of each company, I would say Elon Musk is far more a Richard Branson than Steve Jobs. Jobs is my hero; He is king of the nerds (apologies to Bill Gates, but Steve wins). Branson is the type of guy I wanted to grow up to be in while in high school. He is larger than life in personality and risk taking. Even his hair is exciting (ok, maybe I’m just jealous of how much there is still)! It was Elon Musk that inspired Robert Downey / Tony Spark from the Iron Man movies. Steve Jobs doesn’t inspire comic book heroes, and I don't think he would want to. Branson and Musk are they guys trying to literally slip the surly bonds of Earth, and make money doing it!

The marketplace (I still think this holds, and was the other element of my gut response):
The biggest thing I see is the market maturity when the companies came into being. Apple changed the world with the first consumer accessible PC, the Mac. There simply isn't a correlation with an EV versus ICE. Automotive transportation is highly established and in many places highly cultural. The transatlantic routes in the '80s were similarly established and cultural (my mother made us wear ties when we would fly to England from New York! On British Airways). VA came along and offered almost the same service paradigm (transatlantic flights) but with a new model (well, probably an old model; sexy and extravagant, but in a modern way). Apple laughs at paradigms and then creates their own. They seldom have a competitor with any clout when they hit the market with a new product. Tesla might have been in that place with the Roadster, but I would assert the Roadster was more proof of concept, and the Model S is the foundation of what the company will become.

Nissan, Chevy, and just about everyone else now has, or has in plan, an EV for the next model year or the one after (or this model year!). Tesla is staging an insurrection. If they didn't exist there would be no real consumer gap. If the Mac didn't hit the market at that time there would have been nothing to fill that product void for quite some time. People didn't know things existed like a PC with a hard drive. People know, need and use cars every day.

All that said, you're probably right that Tesla is best placed to become an Apple (sans comic bad-guy-like headquarters I would hope). There are lots of other larger and better funded companies who are able to take larger risks financially and have more established engineering, manufacturing and QA processes, all vying for the same spot. Still, I'm betting on Tesla, but it is hard to argue that a Nissan is less able to absorb a failed launch of the Leaf than Tesla would be if the Model S fails.

I think the Model S will be transformational. I was waiting for WhiteStar to come out for what seemed like years. I was on a business trip in Asia when the Model S was announced and had to wait to land in Hong Kong to get to an airport lounge with WiFi to make my order. I bought the stock on the day of the IPO. I'd move to the West Coast and work for them if they had a need for a guy like me.

Oh, on the point that a company can't win on hot air alone, I sort of agree and sort of don’t. Apple is a lot of hot air, but they back it up with decent to great products. I'm a professional marketer (work for one of the largest marketing / ad agencies running a global B2B tech client), and I have seen over and over where the sizzle far outstrips the steak. I like to use the example of Volvo. Everyone thinks they are the safest brand (mind you, they are VERY safe, but not safest). My wife basically demanded one when we had kids. If you look at the actual safety ratings and compare costs and features, you're better off in a Kia. Still, people want a Volvo. Brands matter. Brand identity matters. The products can kill a great brand, and can also revitalize it, but there isn't a one-to-one correlation there. Great companies make terrible things that just fizzle out of the minds of consumers and borderline to terrible companies make mediocre products, but time it right and continue to grow almost inexplicably (I'd argue RIM for close to five years, until recently when the weight of iPhone and Droid have crushed them, and don’t get me started on Lotus Notes!).

I really enjoyed your article and think your points are valid and well thought out. I'm just challenging a few points both for the fun of it and because it was where my gut went when I read your post. Now I have to get some work done... Truly, this was fun. Sorry if I ranted and rambled a little. I'm passionate if not a little disorganized in my thoughts.

Nicu | August 18, 2011

Thanks, great reply. I really enjoy it and learnt from.

It seems you may be even more passionate than me about both companies. I wonder if you are more bullish than me on their future in the market (more than 90% of my portfolio is in calls of AAPL and TSLA - I used to own shares but the bear market in May made me sell those and go all in calls).

Mark2131@CA-US | August 22, 2011

Interesting thread. May I suggest a book that goes much deeper?

It's called "The Innovator's Dilemna" by Clayton Christensen. To summarize the entire book in one soundbite, "Look out from below!". Using the computer hard drive industry like a geneticist studies
fruitflies, this book shows how successive generations of well run, well capitalized companies all failed. They fail not because of mismanagement or for lack of capital. THey fail because management often can NOT justify the resources to focus on a market that currently doesn't exist, returns that won't happen for years, and a technology that may not yet be ready.

This book was written in the late nineties I believe, and it's final chapter examines the electric car industry. I think Elon must have read it!

Discoducky | August 22, 2011

In short I'd say yes for patent/IP and manufacturing reasons weighing more heavily then design:

1. Exclusivity contracts - Apple can sell hardware that no other OEM (like Samsung or HTC or HP or Amazon) can. RE: Retina display or A5 controller. This makes their other IP and Patents shine. I just assume Tesla will do this with their 17" panel

2. Patents - Derivation of great UI and usability comes from great patents to keep others out of the way. Tesla is creating a large amount of IP that I'm sure they will use to keep others from copying their work.

3. Cooperation agreements - Or jointly held patents where several companies can benefit from more "common" technology implementation methods. Think Toyota and Tesla. Or Daimler and Tesla.

Brian H | August 24, 2011

I think you have the wrong competition model in mind when analysing Tesla. Elon seems to put little stock in exclusivity or market capture, though initially there is some of that. By the time anything is in production, Tesla is already moving on to the maximum "push" of new stuff they can manage reliably for the models in design or production.

This is possible right now because the market is very un-saturated. It will absorb an unlimited amount of high-quality new product (EVs). Mediocre product like Leaf and Volt and Fisker, not so much. They're going to have to scratch and claw just for survival.

I am saying, I guess, that the 'S' will be such a superior game-changing offering that selling all they can produce will be standard for years to come.

Nicu | August 24, 2011

"It will absorb an unlimited amount of high-quality new product"
"selling all they can produce will be standard for years to come"

very, very well said; people will not sleep in tents outside Tesla stores, but will be on this forum trying to find ways to be patient !

I would like to thank all Tesla customers (and employees) for making this one of the great stories of the new century! I have a double interest (at least), clean tech advance and TSLA going up, which will fund my Model S sport ;)

David70 | August 24, 2011

Well, I hope you're right Nicu. TSLA stock has been doing the same general rollercoaster ride as the rest of the market so far. I hope that will change after the October 1st event.

michiganmodels | August 24, 2011

@Nicu - what are your thoughts on Steve Jobs resigning and assuming the role of chairman?

Nicu | August 24, 2011

The man is unique. But he transmitted his modus operandi to all levels of the company.

The stock will be volatile for a while (probably down tomorrow). Medium term I think this will lift the permanent menace of Jobs' health issues so the stock could start to appreciate according to the economical performance (in 9 months the company grew more than 50% but the stock is up only 10%-15%).

For a few years out, it will be interesting to see if they can continue to disrupt new markets, no idea / guess about that.

Discoducky | August 24, 2011

@Brian H...all good points, and I believe it will be game changing due to the price point they are hitting and hopefully superior interior dimensions, but that is exactly what the iPad did and is currently doing, as well as what the iPod and iPhone did.

Let's take tablets currently. There is nothing that can touch the iPad right now. Windows tablets are nearly double the price and weight while being slow and battery hungry. And any Android (Honeycomb) tablet out there is still years behind the tech inside the iPad (ask any dev or hardware engineer). Everything from UI design, interconnection of the bus to the CPU to the App store is all under IP that Apple does not license or is very careful about what they do license. Search on Apple sues Samsung for patent infringement to see this play out.

Also, try not to view the Model S just in terms that it is an EV; it's so much more than that. Every bit of that car will be patented and protected so that others can't easily copy it. They will need to reverse engineer around the patents and that takes time. We need to see the entire process that will eventually bring people to make the purchase. This is why I'm so interested to see their manufacturing floor. This process that Tesla is designing is all wrapped up in IP that they will eventually reap the rewards of just like Jobs has done with Apple.

If you don't think that IP is where the money is at just look at the recent spending spree Microsoft, Apple and Google are on. Microsoft spent 8.5B on Skype for IP and Google is buying Motorola Mobile for 1/3 of it's current cash (13B). Apple and Microsoft are buying, together, several thousand patents around Android just to keep Google from having a monopoly on their own OS.

This is why Apple does not licence their IP and a large part of why it does not have competition currently in the tablet market.

Nicu | August 25, 2011

BTW, if anyone is interested in further analysis of the iPhone or the iPad markets or simply on the Apple stock, I have 3 more articles on that on Seeking Alpha, besides the comparison with Tesla.

I will try not to repeat that here, not to annoy you guys, please do not retaliate for now.

Vawlkus | August 25, 2011

I see one major difference between Apple and Tesla: Tesla is willing to let other people play with their toys, and Apple isn't.

Think about it, Tesla has been providing their battery & drivetrains to other companies, like Diamala's SMART cars, whereas I can't think of any time when Apple has allowed anyone to even "look under the hood" of any of their products. I mean, they even have their own computer certification levels for their hardware (I was a PC tech before).

Apple is about being ahead of everyone else, or standing alone.

Tesla is all about starting up a new market, even if it's not with their own product, and encourages other manufacturers to do something similar.

Nicu | August 25, 2011

Yes, Apple has evolved over a 35 year period and changed many times during that time.

Tesla is in a very cash intensive industry and they could never jump start it by themselves. The day they will be able to manufacture a few millions of cars a year, and everybody else will copy their tech and designs, they will probably choose to do everything by themselves. Until then, they need to help the market grow, stay innovative and profitable and position themselves for the future.

Ramon123 | August 26, 2011

Apple escaped bankruptcy by a $100 million loan from Bill Gates, looking to prop up someone he could point to as a competitor
during the DOJ anti trust period. Jobs then ditched his association with Java and Sun and IBM and played the game Microsoft wanted him to play. Jobs was without ethics or guts. In terms of innovation in the field of computers/software, the concept of the Java programming language is the only thing I can point to in the history of the technology that can truly be called brilliant - a concept that has the ability to free practically all from proprietary enslavement by OS's, etc. Neither Tesla nor Apple have ever done anything that can be characterized as brilliant. Apple's endeavors have provided no new technology or concept - everything that has succeeded at Apple was a refinement of someone's else's product. The same can be said for Tesla - the company has provided excellent design for EVs and designed an attractive product, but there is nothing here that one could characterize as brilliant or particularly innovative. And why would there be? Tesla set out to make a great electric car, not create some heretofore unknown type of personal transportation apparatus. If you look at the history of technology post-Edison, you will probably select IBM as champion innovator. And by giving away the Windows OS and microprocessor, the author of two of the worst business decisions ever made.
People often confuse innovation with commercial success, as has been enjoyed by Apple. But they are seldom one and the same. Commercial success depends upon a variety of factors, including one's competitors. Mostly Apple has succeeded by making products no one else took very seriously, thereby avoiding competition. And it would be impossible to think of their three main success stories as
in any way distinctly different : each is more or less simply an elaboration of the previous device, which further demonstrates the basic lack of innovative capability at the Apple corporation. Each incorporates what was in the previously introduced device and adds additional features. Apple more or less reinvented the same device several times, each one larger than before and more expensive. Apple has had a very narrow focus in terms of products. And I believe that they've reached the end of the line - the next device would be a laptop, and we already have them. All in all, from a technological viewpoint, Apple's run of successes is not going to go down in history as advancing any important technology,
much less inventing any. Jobs simply did not have the talent of the truly creative. He is much more the marketeer and retailer, and the guy who selected the right ideas from his subordinates.

Nicu | August 27, 2011

Ramon123, you have most of your facts wrong. I do not want to enter into a cross fire with you. The thought of convincing you of anything is very far from me, as no more than 1 in 20 people are able to change their opinion, even when presented a 100% valid argument (I have high regards for that kind of people; everybody makes mistakes, but those who understand and acknowledge them are advancing while others are stuck with their ideas forever). "Man believes what he want to." But just let me present you the facts the way I see it.

First, about Apple. They created the first personal computer that would connect to a TV as a monitor and could be attached a keyboard to in '76. Microsoft invested $150M in Apple as a settlement of the court fight over Windows ripping off Mac OS. Also, Microsoft agreed to write software for the Mac in order for that platform to survive (so they could have "competition" and not be broken up for monopoly abuse). Apple could not refuse the latter offer as otherwise the Mac and therefore Apple would have died shortly afterwards.

I love Java an I have written tens of thousands of lines of code during the last years (it's not even my profession). It is great but not revolutionary. It's just a very well executed hybrid between compiled languages and interpreters.

IBM never owned Microsoft Windows nor the Intel processor. The IBM PC was put together in a few short years from available parts and an OS that Microsoft bought for $50k from a guy who wrote a Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS). They did that out of desperation that Apple II would take over the market of PC that Apple created.

You confuse invention with innovation. Maybe none of the companies had true inventions (even inventions are made up using previous ideas) - the first PC I think would qualify. But both of them innovate like crazy every day. Innovation is improving in new ways what is already known. While each small innovative step may seem innocent, when you put together hundreds of them, it just becomes fabulous. For those who do not understand tech it seems magical.

Timo | August 27, 2011

Stop (all of you) this babbling about Apple, otherwise I start marking these posts as inappropriate for the forum. I'm sick of reading one person writing about Apple like it is the second coming and others bashing it like it is nothing. Apple does not make cars. It makes few irrelevant gizmos and makes money doing those. Who cares? It's irrelevant.

Nicu | August 27, 2011

Go ahead. Just for fun, I will mark as inappropriate all your new posts about the clearance of the Model S. More than 100 such comments about a high end sporty sedan are really inappropriate (hint: don't come to that thread which has a clear title, unless you want to understand / discuss how to also make - not only spend - money on Tesla).

Brad Holt | August 27, 2011

Hey now, let's all cool it. Everybody knows Xerox is really the one responsible for personal computers. ;)
There's some flakes of history in here:

Timo | August 28, 2011

I think it was Heron of Alexandria who made first rudimentary computer.

@Nicu, in what way "Is Tesla the next Apple?" indicates making money? To me that hints about someone who thinks Apple is the second coming praising Apple and thinks Tesla could be similar for automotive industry. Enough of this.

Nicu | August 28, 2011

If you had read my article on SeekingAlpha that I linked in my first comment, you would understand better. Nobody forces you to come to this thread anyway. So stop venting your frustrations by trying to make the policeman on Tesla's forum.

And leave me alone with the second coming ... do you think it would be better than the first? And the first is probably just a story for those gullible enough ...

Yes, Xerox had nailed lots of things. But their corporate structure killed the most innovative project ever (Apple didn't even get all those tech at first; the difference is that they payed for Xerox's tech). As I have said, there are few companies who are ready to kill their golden goose and take risks on an unproven revolution.

Discoducky | August 28, 2011

It's all good! Except for that Discoducky guy, what a tool!

There's two things I can't stand in this world: People who are intolerant of other peoples comments and the Dutch!

Austin Powers reference was used above and was not used to defame anyone of the people listed here:

Interesting is that I didn't know Ronald Regan was referred to as "Dutch"? Oh no, another polarizing figure to discuss here. Forget it!

Nicu | August 28, 2011

Quick guess. Who is the CEO who said:
"I believe in just staying really focused on creating the best possible product and just - creating products that amaze and delight customers. And if you do that, then I think you create a valuable company. And I think people sort of forget that great companies are built on great products. And so our focus is just making the best products in the world." ?

If you do not want to guess one, what about short list of 2 or 3 ?

Brant | August 28, 2011


Nicu | August 28, 2011

It's Elon. I will ask the same question on some Apple forum to see what happens :)

Volker.Berlin | August 29, 2011

Nicu, the quote cannot be mistaken for being from Jobs. Content aside, it's so totally Musk due to the wording alone.

Nicu | October 6, 2011

Elon Musk hopes that Model S will be compared to Apple II

Volker.Berlin | October 7, 2011

Green Car Reports likens Tesla to Apple, too, although on a somewhat different aspect and with a critical undertone:

Nicu | October 7, 2011

I won't go into the details of the hard choices between innovation and legacy (otherwise I have a feeling that Timo will break his promise). It suffices to say I wish Tesla will emulate Apple's last decade in the near future and in this case I think we'll all be just fine.

Zeed | October 9, 2011

Nicu, I enjoy reading your posts. I too, am long TSLA and subscribe to many of your insights on Tesla versus Apple. I can only dream of the day when Tesla's charts mimic the valuation of AAPL '96 to present. That said, I must check my ego at the door due to a resent insight of my own. I know that many forum posters are slightly less thrilled about the new Model S Beta interior over the Alpha. If this is the final design of the first generation S models, I believe it is a huge mistake which Apple never made at the beginnings of its new era after Jobs rejoined the company. (I apologize if it seems I'm jumping topic but this will lead to my larger point in drawing similarities to Apple and predicting its success). To be blunt, many people are disappointed with the new interior. I did not know what to think of the interior at first but then my my negative feeling regarding the design were affirmed as more complaints were posted.

Many of the posts herein talk specifically about the similarity between the quality and innovation of Apple's and Tesla's products and comparisons between the two iconic CEOs. Though many similarities exist in these unavoidable categories, we must also emphasize the huge influence "brand" may have on a company's success. I'm not just speaking of a logo/image, but a cocktail of intangible attributes that work seamlessly and harmoniously together to define a culture. When one sees the crest of an Apple insignia peaking into view, the image evokes a powerful cultural connect - that of beauty and lifestyle. Apple only began to captured the dedication of tens of millions of customers when they introduced the iPod - a sleek electronic extension of the user's urbane-ness and youth. The ads targeted these select individuals and made all others wish they were part of it too. These customers became citizens of the Apple culture and more dedicated with each passing model. They unknowingly evangelized their exclusive society by the way their unmistakable white ear buds would lead down and disappear into their garment. I speculate that Apple would have had less success had they released the iPhone prior to the iPod (not just due to technological reasons, capital, etc.) but due to the lack of a pre-formed culture to help step up the adoption a product with a smaller target audience.. When Elon said, "I believe in just staying really focused on creating the best possible product..." what he's secretly saying under his breath is "... product and brand.".. BTW, I do not own AAPL nor do I plan to. Unlike TSLA, they have lost their mastermind - a critical part of their brand and culture. Would you be as optimistic about Tesla's future without Elon at the helm? Think about it.

The first time I saw a Tesla on the road, I freaked out. My wife thought I was nuts chasing and weaving only to get another glimpse of the Icon of sweet beauty, lifestyle and destroyer of "too-big-to-care" oil monopolies. That idea is slightly diminished now IMO.

Nicu | October 9, 2011


There are two things you should consider before selling your TSLA because of the S interior.

1) People freaked out dozens of times both about Apple's products and S's characteristics. The iPad was a failure (just a big iPod touch) when introduced. The same for iPad 2, iPhones 3Gs, the new iPhone 4s. What happens every time is that they break sales records in a spectacular way. For the S, there was a mutiny around here about: the nose, the ground clearance, the charging port and what not. It seems all those were perfectly addressed by Tesla. So what should people complain of now? Well, the last thing that in is "beta", the interior.

2) As they did for all other aspects that were not appreciated, the interior will be upgraded to please most people. And even if there are some very noisy critics left, the sales will not be affected by that (only forums lol).

The real concerns about Tesla as an investment are: could they pull it off with manufacturing? with great quality, in due time and with no price hikes? If they can do that, the buzz will spread like fire. It will be enough to get a ride with a friend and get hooked on it. They have a serious advantage with their tech (battery cost) so they could reap nice profits for years to come.

I do not want to talk too much about Apple here (otherwise I will be struck by a bunch of thunderbolts). But the stock will at least double in 2-3 years. I explained my reasons to believe that in 3 articles on Seeking Alpha.

Mark Petersen | October 10, 2011

Hey Nicu

I'm not done complaining abut the chargingport
I still want a connector that fit my needs and I dont care about any body else


michiganmodels | October 10, 2011

@Zeed - I agree with NICU. Those of us who bought AAPL back in 1999 or earlier lived through the Apple "Cube" and countless other poorly received products. It's revisionist history to believe Apple never settled for less than an optimal or visionary design/products/software. Did anyone purchase the iTunes Phone? Yes, the iTunes Phone. Google it.

I did not see the center console (or absence of) in person. However, similar to Jobs never compromising on a physical keyboard with the iPhone, I could see people getting over this design flaw. Jobs and Apple received a lot of heat for never developing an iPhone with a physical keyboard. Eventually, the industry followed. Few phones use physical keyboards. Now, clearly many people dislike the console, so we'll see it if sets a trend or if Tesla redesigns it. Hell broke loose with the nose on the Alpha. Only time will tell.

ThomasN | October 10, 2011

I think growth is the real issue as to if tesla can become what we hope it will. With reservations as they are, anyone selling short would have to be betting on the entire market dragging the stock with it. Whether or not 20k units are sold in 2013 and reservations of the model x is the real question

DarrellH | October 11, 2011

@Zeed, realize that the people that dislike something are more inclined to speak up. Even if they are in the minority, they look like they are the majority. Few that don't care either way or like the way something is often don't speak up.

DarrellH | October 11, 2011

Make that "Few speak up that don't care either way or like the way something is."

Zeed | October 11, 2011

@Nicu, you make some good points, but I think you've missed the thesis of my speech. I would not sell my shares of TSLA based on the S interior (console) alone. In fact, I believe the pros to owning the company far outweigh the cons. I agree with others in that Apple has created plenty of uncaptivating products, but again this is not what made Apple wildly successful - it began with the iMac; the one product that got it right. The one product that reinvigorated the lifeblood of Apple and built a model of success to carry through to the company's future product offerings. In other words, the Apple culture was born (or reborn depending how you see it) and with it, a society of indoctrinated citizens.

The difference with Tesla (which many will agree) is that they have one shot at getting it right - One! Your reply presumes that tesla will improve the console based on feedback.. humbly, I believe it cannot/will not be improved dramaticaly by launch. The cockpit really needed to be an all glass/led UI wrapping seamlessly from the armrest to the spedometer. Not a green version of my '89 Iroc-Z with a double decker iPad.

BTW, I do not think Tesla should be "The next Apple" necessarily. The greatest companies build their own models of success on a customized platform. But so long as you've asked the question "Is Tesla the next Apple", I must point out the key difference. Sure, you and many others think the the S interior is "good enough", but let me ask you - Was the iPod good enough? Or was it a good product (practically/functionally) with an elite ability to capture an audience? How about the iPhone? This is the difference between a company that hits it's growth target and a company that far exceeds it. With the current S interface, i have no doubt that Tesla will meet its number, but who is to say they couldn't do 3x or 10x what they planned for? Well, this is what Tesla needs to do to be "the next Apple". I do believe they could have far exceeded their goal with a cockpit that empassions the unsuspecting onlooker to nestle within its sweet confine and then leaves them obsessed and lusting after that ultimate conquest - to buy a Tesla no matter what it takes!_

mwu | October 11, 2011

Just to play devil's advocate about the iPod being good enough or what amounts to a super-product, the original iPods weren't all that great... There were plenty of people that didn't like the iPods back then (including myself) and refused to buy one. However, Apple put a lot of money into infrastructure (iTunes), marketing, and improvements into it to make it what it is today.

Not that Tesla is or should be an Apple, but to draw a very simplistic (and imperfect) parallel, Tesla has little competition in the pure EV market (especially when comparing what is out there to Tesla's Roadster and Model S). They obviously plan to continue improving their design and future designs and I am sure they are planning a good marketing campaign for the Model S when they begin full production.

Then again... All of those are just basic good business practices...

Nicu | October 12, 2011


Far from me the idea that Tesla would release an unfinished work and hope that it makes the numbers. I was just pointing out that this is still a beta and the interior is probably the one that illustrated the point the best. And the nose and other things, IMHO Tesla was planning all the way to make changes, it was just too open too early (when things were in alpha) and people freaked out.

They will improve every aspect of the car, some of them beyond our expectations. Others will seem bizarre at launch until you get to use it everyday. Consumers do not know what they want until you show it to them (especially the most vocal of them). There is always a huge tension between innovation and people's habits. This car will not be for everyone, but those who will buy it will wonder for years how they accepted their previous cars and thought they were (very) good.

Vawlkus | October 12, 2011

The interior is the last part of the car that Tesla has to work on prior to launch. They do need to continue to monitor and adjust their assembly line, but the majority of the car is done.

I _SERIOUSLY_ doubt that the interior seen at the open house is anwhere NEAR the final iteration of it. Tesla's focus has been on getting the car's structure, powertrain & drive electronics ready to roll. Now that those are either mostly completed, or done, NOW they can turn their attention to the interior.

Until you finish everything else, you can't know what you have to work with for space.

Zeed | October 12, 2011


" I _SERIOUSLY_ doubt that the interior seen at the open house is anwhere NEAR the final iteration of it. Tesla's focus has been on getting the car's structure, powertrain & drive electronics ready to roll. Now that those are either mostly completed, or done, NOW they can turn their attention to the interior."

I'd like to know the reasons why you believe the S interior is in its design infancy.

For this, I have created another thread dealing with this topic specificaly.