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Elon Musk takes a dig at Apple, says Tesla won't 'bludgeon its competitors' by making its tech incompatible with other companies' products

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/27/2021 (Isobel Asher Hamilton)
Elon Musk, Tim Cook are posing for a picture: Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Brendan Smialowski/AFP, Richard Drew/Associated Press © Provided by Business Insider Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Brendan Smialowski/AFP, Richard Drew/Associated Press
  • Elon Musk said Tesla wouldn't build a "walled garden" around its tech to "bludgeon" competitors.
  • The walled garden describes Apple's close control over which tech is compatible with its devices.
  • Musk also said Tesla used less cobalt. Both firms have faced claims of supply-chain child labor.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Elon Musk criticized Apple twice during Tesla's second-quarter earnings call on Monday.

In one not-so-veiled reference to Apple, Musk said Tesla would not create a "walled garden" around its technology.

"It is our goal to support the advent of sustainable energy," Musk said. "It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors, which is sometimes used by some companies."

Musk then faked a cough and said "Apple."

The walled garden is a term used to describe Apple's close control over which technology is compatible with its devices. For example, you can download apps onto iPhones only from Apple's App Store.

Apple's tight control over its services has led some app developers to accused it of anticompetitive behavior, and the European Union's commissioner for competition in April accused it of breaking antitrust laws.

Tesla announced last week it would let other electric vehicles use its network of fast-charging points by the end of this year. This would be the opposite of a walled-garden practice - though Musk has a long history of missing deadlines.

Read more: Biden's hope for the future of American cars hinges on beating China in a battery arms race

During the earnings call, Musk also said Apple used a lot more cobalt than Tesla to make batteries. "There's somehow a misconception that Tesla uses a lot of cobalt, but we actually don't," Musk said.

Both companies were named in a December lawsuit filed by 14 families from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who said their children were killed or maimed working in cobalt mines to supply the metal to major tech companies.

While Tesla and Apple do not produce competing products at the moment, Apple's secretive self-driving-car division, "Project Titan," has poached dozens of Tesla employees.

Apple did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider about Musk's comments.

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