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During a Tesla earnings call that took place today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spent time sniping at Apple, reports CNBC. Musk criticized Apple's "walled garden" and made comments on the company's cobalt use.
In a discussion about plans to allow Tesla competitors to use the Tesla electric vehicle charger network, Musk said that Tesla does not want to create a walled garden to "bludgeon" Tesla competitors, alluding to Apple's App Store practices.
"I think we do want to emphasize that our goal is to support the advent of sustainable energy," Musk said in response to a question about letting competitors use its charger network. "It is not to create a walled garden and use that to bludgeon our competitors which is used by some companies."
Musk then faked a cough and said, "Apple."
Apple's iOS platform is often referenced using the term "walled garden" because it is a closed platform that Apple has full control over. Apple dictates what software can be installed on the iPhone and requires companies to use its App Store.
In a discussion about Tesla's batteries, Musk again referenced Apple without being prompted to do so. Musk said that people mistakenly believe that Tesla uses a lot of cobalt, which is required for the lithium-ion battery cells used in electronic devices, but it's Apple that uses the most cobalt.
"Apple uses I think almost 100% cobalt in their batteries and cell phones and laptops, but Tesla uses no cobalt in the iron-phosphate packs, and almost none in the nickel-based chemistries," Musk said. "On a weighted-average basis we might use 2% cobalt compared to say, Apple's 100% cobalt. Anyway, so it's just really not a factor."
Apple does indeed use cobalt, which has in the past been linked to human rights abuses. Apple does, however, maintain a list of all of its cobalt smelters and refiners, and audits them regularly. In 2020, all of its cobalt suppliers were audited.
Apple and Tesla have had minor disputes in the past, stealing employees from one another as Apple pushes into the electric vehicle market. Back in 2015, Musk famously called Apple the "Tesla Graveyard." "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple," he said.
More recently, Musk claimed that he had attempted to speak with Apple about a possible acquisition of Tesla at one point in Tesla's early days, but Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to meet with him.