Tom Konrad, CFA
Apple takes on Google in Silicon Valley rivalry to save the world… first.
Recently appointed Apple (NASD:AAPL) senior VP of Energy Lester Coulson is unimpressed by Google’s (GOOG) efforts to solve climate change.
“Google has been trying to make renewable energy cheaper than coal for more than three years now, and we haven’t even seen a Beta version!” Coulson admonishes. “Sure, they’ve made a few headlines by investing in EGS and planning to string wires up and down the Atlantic coast, but after investing $100 million, is renewable energy cheaper than coal (RE<C) yet? No, and it will be years before it will be if Google is the only Silicon Valley company working on it. We at Apple believe that the world’s energy problems are too severe, and the threat of climate change too acute to be left to the likes of Google to solve.”
Apple’s plan, instantly dubbed “EE=C”, is to make energy efficiency cool. “It’s all about the interface,” explains Coulson. “Google is a software firm, but Google is attempting to fix renewable energy. Renewable energy is a hardware problem, and that’s why it takes so long to fix. We at Apple know better. We’re going to apply our unique skills to solve the problem of climate change though software, in the way that only Apple can. Unlike renewable energy, energy efficiency is already cheaper than coal. The problem is, people find energy efficiency unsexy or confusing, or maybe they don’t like those twisty light bulbs, so they don’t adopt it even when it could save them money. We have an App for that.”
“iEnergy won’t just be cool, it will be easy.”
How is Apple going to change people’s attitudes about energy efficiency? They claim their software will allow people, companies, and even governments to manage their energy use with a slick graphical user interface (GUI). Saving energy will be as easy as downloading a hit single from iTunes… and twice as addictive. “Our interface and Apps are going to make energy efficiency cool,” Coulson raves. “First, we’re going to rename energy efficiency: We’re calling it iEnergy. That should double its popularity overnight.
“iEnergy won’t just be cool, it will be easy. Saving energy used to require all sorts of dirty engineering and crawling into dark corners with an insulation blower or a caulk gun. We’ve changed that: With Apple iEnergy, you can cut your energy use by as much as 50% with a simple, graceful stroke of your finger on your iPhone or iPad. Finally, we’re going to raise the price. Our studies show that people think of energy efficiency as cheap, and cheap is definitely uncool. With Apple iEnergy, the more energy you save, the more we charge. How cool is that?”
Google is taking the threat seriously. A Google insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Apple has really stepped over the line with this one. Saving the world is Google’s turf, and we’re not going to take this incursion lightly. People should think carefully about letting Apple manage their energy use. Have you tried using an iPod with music from anywhere but iTunes? Or changing the battery? I hate to think what might happen if someone using Apple’s software tries to install solar panels or even a light bulb bought anywhere other than the Apple Store.”
Furthermore, Google takes their own (if no one else’s) intellectual property rights seriously. Google’s lawyers have sent Apple a cease-and-desist order regarding the name “EE=C” claiming it is a transparent attempt to profit from Google’s branding of “RE<C”.
Apple shares were up 3.1% in aftermarket trading. Google shares traded flat.