Elon Musk threatens to ban iPhone and Mac over Apple’s OpenAI deal

Elon Musk
Elon Musk says Apple’s integration with ChatGPT is an “unacceptable security breach.” Apu Gomesa/Getty Images

Elon Musk isn’t thrilled about Apple’s ( AAPL ) big artificial intelligence moment. Following yesterday’s (June 10) announcement regarding Apple’s partnership with OpenAI to include GPT functionality in new Apple devices, OpenAI co-founder-turned-critic Musk took to his social media platform X to express concerns that such integration constitutes an “unacceptable security breach” and threatened to block all Apple products offered by his companies. Musk owns and operates at least six companies with more than 100,000 employees.

“I do not want it. “Either stop this appalling spyware or all Apple devices will be banned from my company premises,” Musk said in response to Post X by Apple CEO Tim Cook announcing Apple Intelligence. He added that visitors to the office will have to check Apple devices in Faraday cages near the doors, citing containers that block electromagnetic waves.

If Musk is serious about banning Apple products, the move could generate significant sales for his numerous companies, which also include The Boring Company and Neuralink. Tesla (TSLA) reported it will have about 140,000 employees in 2023, SpaceX is estimated to have more than 11,000 employees, and Company X reported about 1,300 employees last year.

Tesla, SpaceX and X appear to be using Apple products to some extent. Tesla uses both PCs and Apple Macs, according to employee posts on the Team Blind technology platform. Meanwhile, X had previously provided Mac computers to employees, and SpaceX had used iPads. It’s unclear what alternatives Musk plans to replace Apple’s computers and tablets with, although he did point to a potential iPhone replacement. In response to X’s post suggesting that the social media company has partnered with Samsung (SSNLF) to produce a “Phone X” with an open-source operating system, Musk wrote: “It’s not out of the question.”

Yesterday at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple announced its partnership with OpenAI and its slate of new AI features, and emphasized that privacy is a top priority. One upcoming feature is ChatGPT-based Siri, but Apple says requests and information from users will not be logged by OpenAI. The iPhone maker further revealed that some AI features will be powered by a newly developed cloud network called Private Cloud Compute (PCC), and noted that personal data transferred to PCC will not be accessible to Apple or anyone other than the user.

These claims do not appear to have influenced Musk. “Apple has no idea what’s actually going on when it gives your data to OpenAI. They sell you down the river,” he said in a series of X posts yesterday. “The truth is that feeding data to a digital superintelligence (that Apple can’t even build or understand) at the operating system level is madness.”

Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015, has been a vocal critic of the company in recent years. In March, it filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman, claiming it has strayed from its mission to benefit humanity and now puts profit first. Last year, the billionaire also launched a competing chatbot called Grok through his startup xAI, which raised $6 billion in a venture funding round in May.

Elon Musk is threatening to ban the use of Apple devices in his companies over Tim Cook's OpenAI deal