How iPhones helped Elon Musk crush Detroit

Way back in 2011, major American automakers were slow to realize that "companies in Silicon Valley have for some time been looking at cars just like another mobile device or app." When the disruption, hit, it hit hard, writes Nick Bilton:

Teenagers salivated over the notion of turning 16, getting a driver's license, and earning independence from their parents. By the time of my conversation with these Ford executives, the auto industry had already withstood countless threats—the rise of Japanese carmakers, the advent of new manufacturing practices, and the aforementioned financial crisis—but none were as pressing as the fact that a new, relatively inexpensive device now appeared to offer teenagers a newfound digital freedom that trumped any analog competitor. "The car used to be the signal of adulthood, of freedom," a Ford executive told me at the time. "Now, the signal into adulthood for teenagers is the smartphone."

Lots of other interesting tidbits in this piece.

How Elon Musk crushed Detroit (Vanity Fair)

Images: Maurizio Pesce and Steve Jurvetson