The Tesla Phone. The MuskPhone. Call it what you want, but this entirely hypothetical device got Musk fans frothing on the bird site this week. Sadly for them, it’s not going to happen.
It all came about by Musk “declaring war” on Apple, much like a toddler “declares war” on its toys when things don’t go its way, before hurling them at a wall. A barrage of tweets on 28 November began with Musk publicly berating Apple for mostly stopping advertising on Twitter and asking: “Do they hate free speech in America?” (Because, as we all know, free speech in the USA compels corporations to advertise on a specific social media platform. It’s in the Constitution – look it up!)
If that wasn’t embarrassment enough, Musk claimed Apple had threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but wouldn’t say why. Musk then feigned surprise at Apple’s 30% App Store cut and then said “if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone”. Cue: fanboy frothing, dodgy tech industry headlines about how Musk was making a phone, and head-desk moments for anyone with a crumb of integrity. (Apple didn’t comment – its entire PR team presumably bewildered by Musk’s utterances.)
Then everything changed: Tim Cook took Musk on a walk around Apple HQ and the conflict was over. Boom! This was no Anglo-Zanzibar War, but even I was surprised at the brevity. After all, Twitter’s new chief was enjoying whipping up his Musky Army, who’d to an individual promised to hurl their iPhones into the sea and buy the handset Musk would pull directly out of his brain – while planning to implant tech directly into theirs.
Which got me thinking. Had Tim Cook not calmed Musk down, what would a MuskPhone look like? Even if you’ve billions in the bank, you can’t magic tech out of thin air. Nor an ecosystem. Slapping a Tesla sticker on an existing Android blower wouldn’t do much if the phone didn’t have access to Google Play Services and the Google Play store. (Yes, there are Android forks that can fudge this. But if a major player attempted to, Google lawyers would respond with knives. Or at least sharp and pointy lawsuits.)
Perhaps Musk wouldn’t care, and he’d divert the literally several remaining Twitter employees to make his hallowed X app. So instead of a home screen or app store, MuskPhone would boot with a single option: MuskMe. With a tap, you’d be hurled into a walled garden of Musk, from which there’s no escape. And for which you’d pay $8 a month for no obvious benefit.
On using the phone, you’d immediately realise its accelerometer inexplicably tilts to the right at every opportunity, despite swearing blind it’s perfectly balanced. The X app’s news feed would comprise individuals being named and shamed for ditching MuskMe or the MuskPhone itself, confirming them as enemies of free speech in America.
There would be daily bold claims about future features that would be abruptly and quietly deleted, making you question your own sanity. And important components would randomly stop working – but the battery would then mysteriously lose a third of its run-time if you took your MuskPhone to a Musk Store for a service.
Still, it could be worse. At least it wouldn’t be a Twitter Peek.