Yesterday, Tesla took another bite out of Apple.
Until then, the automaker's highest profile recruit from Cupertino had undoubtedly been George Blankenship, the man who turned Apple's wheelbarrows full of money into truckloads by creating ludicrously high-grossing stores in malls across America.
On Thursday, however, Elon Musk & Co. announced that they had hired Doug Field -- arguably, a much bigger coup.
At Apple, Field served as Vice President of Mac Hardware Engineering, meaning that he was key in creating the company's sleek, pricey laptops and desktops. Before that, he engineered products at Segway (yikes) and Ford. At Tesla, the MIT grad will serve as Vice President of Vehicle Programs, which means that he'll be in charge of developing new Tesla vehicles.
We see where this is going. We're not the first to point out that Apple is a great role-model for Tesla to follow. Since re-inventing itself in 2001 with the launch of the iPod, Apple has cemented its reputation as a tech leader -- one that's passionate about creating sexy, well-designed products. It charges a premium for those products, but because the Cool Kids use them, everyone seems willing to pony up.
Perhaps best of all, Apple is great at making consumers crave gadgets they never knew they needed. Remember the gnashing of teeth that followed the debut of the iPad? "Who needs another screen?", we all demanded to know. The answer, however, was "Everyone".
That's exactly the sort of brand toward which Tesla has been working with its attractive, tech-forward, all-electric automobiles. Clearly, the company is hoping that Field can, in the words of Chef Emeril, kick it up a notch. Here are a few predictions of what expect during Field's first year at Tesla:
- A new, proprietary Tesla plug. Like Apple's Thunderbolt, it won't be backwards-compatible with anything, but, "You guys, it can plug in upside-down!" Adapters will be pricey, though foreign companies will offer cheaper, ill-fitting knockoffs.
- New Teslas will charge from outlets underneath the car. Because moving ports around keeps consumers on their toes.
- A do-all start button. With a tap or a wipe, drivers can turn on a flashlight or crack open a calculator. Unfortunately, the start button won't actually start the car.
- A fingerprint-recognition anti-theft system. The 24-hour news media will run features about thieves making replicas of Elon Musk's thumb, which can allegedly unlock any Tesla at any time. These reports will turn out to be entirely true.
- Less-powerful Tesla models aimed at China. They'll be pretty and colorful, but Tesla won't bother to make them affordable.
- Lighter, thinner cars. Shaving off pounds will boost battery range, but some will complain that Teslas are now too light. Sales of artificially weighted Tesla cases skyrocket.
- Cracked windshields become status symbols. Tesla will roll out a repair program, but insiders recoil. "TeslaCare is for nerds," they'll say. "And not the good kind of nerds, either."