It’s a big surprise.
It’s news that neither Apple (AAPL) fans nor admirers of the charismatic and whimsical Elon Musk could have imagined even in their wildest dreams.
And yet it seems that one of the most innovative companies of the last decades and the most influential and visionary boss of this same period were discussing a possible business partnership between the iPhone maker and SpaceX, the rocket launch company founded by Musk.
The news was announced by none other than the billionaire himself. In a post on Twitter, the richest man in the world announced that SpaceX and Apple have discussed an iPhone satellite service. Basically, the discussions between the two parties were about offering satellite connectivity to iPhones using Starlink, the satellite internet service offered by SpaceX.
iPhone Team Is ‘Super Smart’
“We’ve had some promising conversations with Apple about Starlink connectivity,” the tech tycoon posted on Twitter on September 8.
Musk, who has often dismissed Apple’s recent innovations, complimented the tech giant: “iPhone team is obv super smart.”
He added that: “For sure, closing link from space to phone will work best if phone software & hardware adapt to space-based signals vs Starlink purely emulating cell tower.”
He didn’t say if the discussion was ongoing.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk’s announcement comes a day after Apple unveiled its satellite communications service in partnership with Globalstar (GSAT) . The service will eventually allow users to make emergency calls over a satellite connection even when they don’t have cell service. It is limited to messages at first.
Scroll to Continue
Antennas compatible with the iPhone would connect to a satellite and communicate in places where there is no cellular connectivity. The service is supposed to work with a direct satellite connection (and would therefore not be compatible with current iPhone models), with the need to be outdoors and on the move.
Satellite functionality will be free with new iPhones for two years.
“It is currently expected that [Apple] will make the services available to customers during the fourth quarter of 2022 (…) There is no assurance that the service launch will occur, “Globalstar said in a regulatory filing.
The Apple-Globalstar partnership resembles an announcement made in late August by SpaceX and T-Mobile. According to the agreement, SpaceX will provide a satellite connection service in remote areas where the traditional cellular network is insufficient.
The partnership is based on the technology offered by Starlink as TheStreet’s Tom Bemis wrote. Starlink, the low-earth-orbit satellite network operated by SpaceX, is set to start launching a new generation of satellites next year.
“The Starlink second generation satellites will be able to transmit directly to your cell phone,” Musk promised. “No more dead zones, in a nutshell.”
The service would use the 12 Ghz spectrum to offer a rudimentary connection via a 5G modem, and it should be launched in beta next year, only with texts at first.
It’s surprising to see Musk in discussions with Apple because the billionaire and executives at Tesla (TSLA) , Musk’s electric vehicle maker, are constantly criticizing Apple. In February, Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s chief designer, said that Apple had not invented anything for a very long time.
“Oh my God, I’ve heard about Apple products. Now is like there’s nothing to look forward to. Right!” Franz von Holzhausen told Spike’s Car radio in February. “I feel like it’s just a continuation. It’s just kind of a slight refinement on the same thing,” he said. “Inspirationally, it’s been hard to get, you know, super motivated by what they’re doing.”
In May, Musk himself did not hesitate to attack Apple by taking a stand on the controversial fee that the maker of the iPad and the Apple watch applies to in-app sales as well as in-app purchases.
“Apple’s store is like having a 30% tax on the Internet. Definitely not ok,” the tech tycoon posted on Twitter on May 3.