Can Apple give Tesla a 'run for its money'?

Apple-Tesla rivalry heats up
Apple-Tesla rivalry heats up   

Apple is a company flooded with talent, tons of capital and huge visions for the future. As it turns out, Tesla is a company with the same exact things. No wonder the rumor mill about a rivalry brewing between the companies seems to be churning at full speed.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Tesla has been poaching and winning over some 150 Apple employees. On Monday, Business Insider reported an Apple employee wrote that Tesla employees were "jumping ship to work at Apple."

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"Apple's latest project is too exciting to pass up," the Apple employee reportedly told Business Insider. "I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money."

Whatever project that may be, it's likely not the iCar. Morningstar analysts David Whiston and Brian Colello told CNBC that the competition between the two companies might center around the software that comes with future autonomous cars.

"Apple may want to be in that area, too, but with technology for the entire auto industry, not just for Tesla," Whiston and Colello said. "We don't see Apple being a car manufacturer, but you never know."

Elon Musk
Getty Images
Elon Musk

CLSA analysts Avi Silver and Andrew Fung discount the notion that Apple might be working on a car of its own. Last week reports of mysterious, hardware-laden vans roaming around San Francisco were linked to Apple. Silver and Fung say the cars were likely developing improved mapping software.

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"We do not believe Apple is interested in making a car to compete with Tesla," Silver and Fung said. "If anything, the spotting of a minivan owned by Apple with cameras mounted on the top suggests it is looking to improve its software for vehicles and its mapping solutions."

Silver and Fung added: "These companies are certainly not on a collision course like Apple versus Google, but at some level they will be fighting over consumer mind share."

Brian Blair, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities, adds that Apple is getting its foot in the car door with CarPlay and will probably reach into other aspects of the car.

"If you sit in a Tesla and study the screens, you can see where the car industry is headed and why Apple should see this as a jump ball," Blair said.