Elon Musk is beefing with Apple and Tim Cook again. It's not the first time the Tesla CEO picked a fight with the iPhone giant.

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  • Elon Musk criticized Apple and its CEO years ago before appearing to patch things up during an Apple HQ visit with Tim Cook.

  • On Monday, Musk slammed Apple for its OpenAI partnership and threatened to ban iPhones and MacBooks at his companies.

  • Here's a history of the beef between the Tesla CEO and the tech giant.

The story of Musk's beef with Apple dates back several years.

The first signs of Musk's one-sided beef with Apple came in 2015 when he joked that Apple employed Tesla's rejects.

"They have hired people we've fired," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt. "We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard'. If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding."

In the interview with the news outlet, the Tesla CEO shrugged off reports that Apple was looking into making its own electric car — which the company has since reportedly scrapped — and took a dig at some of Apple's latest products.

"Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?" Musk said. "No, seriously: It's good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car."

But in the years since, Musk has continued to pick fights with Apple and its CEO Tim Cook. After a recent period that seemingly seemed peaceful, the Tesla CEO set things off again with social media posts on June 10 that slammed the company for partnering with OpenAI, the AI company Musk cofounded and had a falling out with.

Here's a history of Musk's criticisms of Apple and its CEO.

In 2016, Musk reportedly tried to take CEO Tim Cook's job.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook.Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images, Steve Granitz/WireImage

According to Tim Higgins' book "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century,"  Tim Cook had suggested that Apple acquire Tesla in 2016.

At the time, Musk reportedly said he wanted to be CEO and Cook allegedly agreed, until Musk clarified that he wanted to be CEO of Apple — not just Tesla.

According to the book, which cited a source who had heard Musk's retelling of the exchange, Cook said "Fuck you" before hanging up the phone on Musk.

Both Musk and Apple have denied the reports, saying the two CEOs have never spoken.

"There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla," Musk said on Twitter when the book came out last year. "There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today's value."

Six years ago, Musk said Apple's devices don't "blow people's minds" like they used to.

Tim Cook visits an Apple store in New York City on September 16.
Tim Cook visits an Apple store in New York City on September 16.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

In a 2018 interview with Recode's Kara Swisher, Musk said Apple's products have grown stale.

"There's not many products you can buy that really make you happier," he said. "I still think, obviously, that Apple makes great phones. ... 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 compared Apple to Tesla, saying Tesla planned to avoid Apple's pitfalls when it comes to consumer interest.

"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."

He doubled down his criticisms of Apple's technology in 2020.

Elon Musk looking at his phone.
Musk said recent software updates weren't great in 2020.John Raoux/AP Photo

In 2020, Musk criticized the iPhone's software while speaking at the Satellite 2020 conference.

"Technology does not automatically improve," Musk said. "People are used to the phone being better every year. I'm an iPhone user, but I think some of the recent software updates have been not great."

He continued to say that the software seemingly  "broke" his email system.

 

A key Apple executive deleted his Twitter account amid Musk's changes to Twitter.

Phil Schiller, former head of Apple marketing
Former head of Apple marketing Phil Schiller deactivated his Twitter account.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Phil Schiller, the senior Apple executive who runs the company's App Store, deactivated his Twitter account in November 2022, shortly after Musk reinstated Donald Trump's account.

Schiller had hundreds of thousands of followers on the site and had formerly served as the company's head of marketing. His decision to delete his account spawned headlines and raised eyebrows across the industry.

Musk has slammed the tech company for its App Store fees.

An Apple store in Sydney, Australia
Musk has criticized Apple for its App store fees many times.Loren Elliott/Reuters

"Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through the App Store?" Musk tweeted in November 2022.

It was one of many times the billionaire has criticized Apple for its App Store fees.

In 2021, he called the fees a "de facto global tax on the Internet," and in November 2022, he tagged the Department of Justice's antitrust division in a criticism of the fees.

Now that he owns X, formerly Twitter, Apple's fees could have an impact on Musk's business and his plans to generate revenue by charging users $8 per month for verification on the social media site.

The tech company controls app distribution for the iPhone and iPad, and takes between 15% and 30% of most in-app purchases made on iOS apps. The company typically requires that developers use in-app payment systems, though it has slightly softened that requirement for certain apps like Netflix and Spotify.

 

Elon Musk seemingly declared "war" on Apple in a since-deleted tweet in 2022.

Elon Musk Tim Cook meme
Elon Musk tweeted a meme seemingly declaring "war" on Apple. He has since deleted it.Elon Musk

The billionaire accused Apple of monopolizing the market and opposing free speech in a series of tweets.

"Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter," Musk posted on Twitter in November 2022. "Do they hate free speech in America?"

In a series of tweets, Musk accused Apple of being politically biased, called for Apple to publish all actions it has taken toward censorship, and asked his followers for support in his fight against the largest tech company in the world.

The Tesla CEO and "Chief Twit" later added that Apple had "threatened" to take Twitter off its App Store and "won't tell us why."

A spokesperson for Apple did not respond to a request for comment at the time.

 

Musk took aim at Cook in 2022.

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends Apple's "Ted Lasso" Season 2 Premiere at Pacific Design Center on July 15, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Musk said Apple stopped spending ad money on Twitter in 2022, but Cook never publicly responded.

"What's going on here @tim_cook?" Musk tweeted in November 2022.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, accounting for 4% of the social media company's revenue, according to The Washington Post.

Up until Musk's takeover, Twitter and Apple appeared to enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Apple has frequently used the site for product announcements, and Apple even integrated tweets in its iOS operating system in 2011.

In a op-ed with The New York Times, Yoel Roth, Twitter's former head of trust and safety, said that "the calls from the app review teams had already begun" when Musk's rollout of paid verification badges led to chaos, with users impersonating public figures and major companies.

 

But Musk didn't seem afraid of the consequences of beefing with Apple.

Elon Musk
Musk hasn't ruled out creating his own version of the iPhone.Taylor Hill/Getty Images

In the past, Musk has said he doesn't see Apple as a threat to Tesla.

Musk said in November 2022 that he'd create his own smartphone if Apple booted Twitter off the App Store.

"I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone," Musk posted on Twitter.

Musk hinted that his next step could be an iPhone following Apple's WWDC event.

After a user on X, formerly Twitter, posted that they foresee the platform partnering with Samsung to manufacture an X phone, Musk responded, "It is not out of the question."

 

Musk seemed to let go of his beef with Apple after he visited its headquarters on November 30, 2022.

A view of Apple Park's main, circular 'spaceship' building through trees
The circular Apple Park headquarters building is visible from the roof of the visitor center.Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Days after declaring "war" on Apple, Musk posted a video that appeared to show him at Apple's campus in Cupertino, California. New York Times reporter Kate Conger also posted on Twitter at the time that Musk and Cook were spotted together on Apple's campus by employees.

"Thanks @tim_cook for taking me around Apple's beautiful HQ," Musk posted on Twitter later that day.

In an interview with GQ several months later in April 2023, Cook opened up about his relationship with Musk and said he felt "very strongly about engaging with people regardless of whether they agree with you or not."

"I actually think it's even more important to engage when there's disagreement," Cook said in the interview.

Since then, Musk seemed to quiet down about his criticism of Apple and its CEO — at least temporarily.

Musk has never shied away from picking a fight online.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is one of many public figures the billionaire has publicly called out.Eric Gaillard/Reuters

The billionaire has been known to start his fair share of feuds on X, and he's never appeared hesitant to speak his mind.

Musk has public feuds with both Mark Zuckerberg and Sam Altman. Most recently, the billionaire sued OpenAI accusing it of betraying its original mission of being open-sourced and "developing AGI for the benefit of humanity."

Musk has also publicly argued with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stephen King on X. The billionaire also seems to have a tense relationship with Don Lemon. After Lemon interviewed Musk and asked some tough questions, including about antisemitism on the platform and his ketamine use, the billionaire abruptly canceled X's partnership with the former CNN host.

Musk has also personally called up CEOs of companies that have pulled ads from X to complain, Financial Times reported in November 2022.

 

Now, Musk is threatening to take action against Apple users after denouncing its partnership with OpenAI.

Elon Musk
Musk most recently took aim at Apple's partnership with OpenAI.Beata Zawrzel/Getty Images

After Apple announced a partnership with OpenAI at the WWDC conference on Monday, Musk published a number of posts on X denouncing Apple's move to integrate ChatGPT as an opt-in feature across its software on iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia.

"If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies," Musk wrote. "That is an unacceptable security violation."

He also added that anyone visiting his companies would have to store their Apple devices in a Faraday cage, which is a type of container that blocks electromagnetic transmissions.

Musk, whose Grok AI chatbot is a ChatGPT competitor, also mocked Apple's artificial-intelligence chops, posting that it wasn't "smart enough to make their own AI."

Musk also took hits directly at Apple during and after the WWDC event.

Elon Musk, Tim Cook
Musk seemed unimpressed with Apple's offerings, based off his commentary on X.JIM WATSON/AFP/Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

In addition to multiple posts slamming Apple's partnership with OpenAI, Musk also made it clear he wasn't impressed with the company's other offerings.

During the event, Musk replied to a post on X about the crowd cheering when Apple introduced an iPhone home screen revamp with, "Um ok."

He also responded to a post from Cook that promoted Apple Intelligence with disinterest in its offerings.

"Don't want it," the Tesla CEO said."Either stop this creepy spyware or all Apple devices will be banned from the premises of my companies."

Apple has yet to comment on Musk's criticisms.

In the meantime, it appears that Musk's one-sided beef with the company will continue.

Apple's Apple Intelligence features are scheduled to roll out later this year alongside the new iPhone lineup. Tesla, SpaceX, and X employees will likely be waiting to see whether their boss makes good on his word and bans the company's devices.

Read the original article on Business Insider