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If Elon Musk made a smartphone, it would absolutely sell out

Inverse logo: MainLogo Inverse 11/29/2022 Jackson Chen
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The wild ride that is Elon Musk’s business ventures never seems to stop. In a recent Tweet, Musk recently dropped a potential bombshell of a teaser, stating that he would make an “alternative” smartphone if he had to.

The context is important here: Musk was responding to conservative pundit Liz Wheeler’s tweet that he should produce his own smartphone if Apple and Google kick Twitter off the app stores. Musk responded by saying that he would make an alternative smartphone if there was no other choice, but added the caveat that he hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone,” Musk said.

Is a Musk-branded smartphone an actual possibility? Here’s a closer look at why Musk wants to do this and what a Musk-built smartphone could look like.

WHY DOES ELON MUSK WANT TO MAKE HIS OWN SMARTPHONE?

As seen in the parent tweet, Musk could face some serious heat with Twitter being listed on app stores. After he bought the social media site, Musk took several major steps in establishing what the new version of Twitter would look like. That includes reactivating former president Donald Trump’s account after Twitter determined he broke its “glorification of violence” policy and reinstating Ye’s account, which was locked after a string of antisemitic posts.

Musk’s philosophy for this new Twitter will be at odds with Apple and Google’s app store policies, especially the former, which promotes “a safe experience for users.” Yet, in typical Musk fashion, the Twitter CEO suggested that building his own product could be the solution.

HOW WOULD MUSK MAKE A SMARTPHONE?

It’s not totally inconceivable that Musk develops a smartphone. Considering he runs companies that are aimed at colonizing Mars, creating EVs, and advancing artificial intelligence, building a phone wouldn’t be a huge ask — at least from a technical standpoint.

It’s also not the first time Musk has made something outside of his companies’ wheelhouse. He recently began selling Burnt Hair perfume and previously sold a flamethrower, both under The Boring Company. The man is the ultimate salesman; he could sell anything and his fans would buy it.

WHAT WOULD THE MUSK SMARTPHONE LOOK LIKE?

Musk didn’t give any indication of what a potential smartphone could look like in his tweet. In the past, he’s shown to be partial to the letter X as evidenced by SpaceX and his plans to create an “everything app” called X, which would be similar to how WeChat works.

In general, smartphone design hasn’t changed much in the last few years. Most smartphone makers follow the same design cues: a big screen, slim bezels, and a flat profile. It would be interesting to see if Musk takes a different approach here, much like what he did with the Tesla Cybertruck.

COULD A MUSK-MADE SMARTPHONE ACTUALLY WORK?

There are many people who ascribe to Elon Musk’s cult of personality, and naturally, some Twitter users are responding to Musk’s tweet in support of his idea. Would those supporters actually ditch Apple’s blue text bubbles to join Musk? It’s hard to say.

On the business side of things, competitors like Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone market in the U.S. Then there are competitors like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo that have a decent slice of the market share for budget phones. Musk and his followers could carve out a small slice of the global smartphone market, but competition would be fierce.

WILL ELON MUSK ACTUALLY MAKE A SMARTPHONE?

All things considered, it still feels like an empty threat from Musk. Neither Apple nor Google have confirmed anything about banning Twitter from its respective app stores, so there may not be a need for Musk to create a smartphone just yet.

Still, it initially felt like Musk wasn’t actually serious about acquiring Twitter, but here we are. All we can do is hope that Musk is a little more definitive if it comes down to making a smartphone.

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