Elon Musk says Apple doesn't really 'blow people's minds' anymore

  • Elon Musk said in a new interview that Apple's products don't blow people's minds anymore.
  • He added that Apple still makes great phones though.
  • He's previously called Apple the "Tesla graveyard," suggesting that Tesla employees who don't work out often land at Apple.

Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO and celebrity entrepreneur, recently took some time out of his busy schedule boosting Model 3 production and running SpaceX to sit down with Recode's Kara Swisher for an hourlong interview.

Though he didn't smoke weed this time, he did blow some figurative smoke at Apple, Tesla's Silicon Valley neighbor and a company that Tesla is frequently compared to, even if their financial situations are worlds apart.

After explaining that Tesla aims to make a car that makes people really happy, Musk said: "There's not many products you can buy that really make you happier. And so Apple did that for a long time. I still think, obviously, that Apple makes great phones."

He continued: "I still use an iPhone and everything. But Apple used to really bring out products that would blow people's minds, you know? And still make great products, but there's less of that."

Musk suggested that Apple's iPhones might not draw as much consumer attention — at least compared with Tesla's famous 450,000-person Model 3 waitlist.

"I don't think people are necessarily running to the store for the iPhone 11," Musk said. "But I think with Tesla, we really want to make products that people just love, that are heart-stopping."

Musk has sniped at Apple in the past, calling it the "Tesla graveyard," suggesting that employees who couldn't hack it at his company went to work at Apple. But employees go back and forth between the companies all the time. In August, Doug Field, a former Tesla engineering executive who oversaw Model 3 production, ended up back at Apple.

Musk may be tapping into a growing view of Apple products. This year, when the iPhone XS and XS Max went on sale, lines outside Apple Stores were not as long as they used to be. When the less expensive iPhone XR — the "Model 3" to the iPhone XS's "Model S" — was released a month later, there were no lines at all.

Still, Apple would probably argue that "running to the store" doesn't accurately capture consumer interest for the iPhone; on an earnings call with analysts on Thursday, the company pointed to a smaller survey that found customer satisfaction with the iPhone was 98%.

But that criticism may sting a little bit more coming from a Silicon Valley legend making cars that Apple's own employees love.

You can listen to the entire interview over at Recode.

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