Tesla may be working on its own Apple-like app store, which would allow owners of its electric vehicles to download and install apps much like they would on an Apple or Android smartphone.
The question of whether Tesla is working on an app store arose after the last version 11 update of Tesla’s in-car interface in December, when Tesla introduced a customizable toolbar at the bottom of the touchscreen.
This led some to speculate that Tesla CEO Elon Musk would announce the app initiative at the company’s last conference call in late January, but that didn’t happen.
Now, the notion that Tesla may already be developing an app store has gained weight after Sawyer Merritt, a Tesla investor believed to be “informed,” retweeted a video of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs declaring the App Store introduces on Twitter , proverb “Rumor has it that something similar to something with four wheels starting with a T is coming soon.”
Rumor has it that something similar with four wheels starting with a T is coming soon 👀 https://t.co/qBGPzZpbdE
— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) February 5, 2022
This was quickly retweeted by Teslascope, the Twitter account of a Tesla trip-tracking app of the same name.
“The rumor is out! Tesla has been working on its own “App Store” since around May 2021 and will start before the delivery of the Cybertruck. However, we expected that to be revealed during the conference call@elonmusk shared that this would be the year of “software,” it said.
Teslascope further clarified: “As this was not mentioned during the results conference call, we believe the planned rollout period may have been extended, although work has been going on since the launch of the V11 UI with the updated Model S/X.”
A little teaser from @SawyerMerritt.
For clarification, since this was not mentioned during the results conference call, we believe the planned rollout period may have been extended, although work has been going on since the V11 UI was launched with the updated Model S/X. https://t.co/weWhYPVDPY
— Teslascope (@teslascope) February 5, 2022
It’s worth noting that Musk hasn’t explicitly stated anywhere that 2022 will be the “year of software” that we’ve been able to track down.
What he said is: “Tesla is as much a software company as it is a hardware company, both in the car and in the factory. This is not commonly understood.”
Tesla is as much a software company as it is a hardware company, both in the car and in the factory. This is not commonly understood.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 1, 2022
The reference to the “Year of the Software” is likely a reference to comments made by Musk in the Tesla Q4 2021 earnings call that its full self-driving (FSD) software will be the “largest asset appreciation of any asset class in historyYes.”
This was confirmed by CFO Zachary Kirkhorn, who said: “WWith the rapid development of FSD, software-based profits will eventually become a powerful complement to the profits generated from hardware sales.” and the, “ I think the software part of the business is the one that really needs attention.”
If Tesla were to launch an app store, it could add another interesting facet to the pioneering electric brand that has spearheaded the concept of “software on wheels” with its electric car offering.
It has also been argued that by providing an app store, Tesla would be able to create another revenue stream that could be added to products such as self-driving vehicle subscriptions.
It’s not as if Tesla needs to introduce apps to compete with companies like Volvo and Polestar, which have integrated Android Automotive into their electric vehicles, allowing access to vehicle-specific apps through the Google Play Store, but Car integration has been around for a long time have ruled out Play and Android Auto (both phone mirroring systems, not to be confused with Android Automotive) in its electric cars, Tesla may have been planning its own app store for a long time.
While one user pointed out that revenue from app launches might not generate a lot of revenue per car, there’s more to a proprietary app store than just accumulating app subscriptions.
After all, people aren’t replacing their cars to the same extent as their smartphones, nor do they belong to every teen and kid on the playground.
Cool! But just consider that the “hardware in use” used by Tesla is 1/1000th that of Apple. This is a very limiting factor in terms of profitability. At a generous $100 ARPU per car and say 1.5M cars x 20% RPM share you get 30M gross profit.
— Honey Badger (@RealPontane) February 5, 2022
But they’re a much higher-value product that generates thousands more sales per item than a phone.
The keyword is “ecosystem”. It’s the same concept that binds users to iPhones or Android-based phones year after year. Once a driver has their systems set up on a particular operating system, they are much more reluctant to switch brands – something that has the potential to further solidify Tesla as the world’s leading automaker for years to come.
That’s not even true when you factor in the deployment of fully autonomous driving, which could reduce the number of cars owned per capita (a good thing), but could also push Tesla further ahead — when and if it finally deploys it as fully functional autonomous driving system.
Which reminds us where is the Apple EV?
Bridie Schmidt is Associate Editor of The Driven, Renew Economy’s sister site. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018 and has a keen interest in the role zero-emission transport must play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is a co-organizer of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and offers it for rent on evee.com.au.