From Computer World:
Improving battery technology is seen as pivotal to transportation and storage, particularly around the need to store solar and wind energy.
Chu said the idea of seeking a 5X improvement is really around getting the battery and energy storage prices to a point where they will gain widespread adoption.
“We look very carefully at the price points,” said Chu, who cited the impact of falling prices on cell phones of PCs, as examples of how low prices trigger mass adoption.
This is way overdue. Batteries rule our lives already in cell phones and will rule them even more as they invade transit. We need the ability to store power more efficiently if we’re going to be making optimal use of electricity going forward.
Just the other day Microsoft announced it was going carbon neutral. Apple is now goaling for 100% renewable energy for it’s data centers by 2013. This is a very different goal than Microsoft, but still quite interesting.
Apple is a much more focused company than Microsoft. I could be wrong, but I doubt they are dogfooding their future product like Microsoft likely is. My guess is Tim Cook is looking at the financials today, and where Apple wants to be in 2013. He’s a supply chain guy. When it comes to IT operations (the cloud). Electricity is a huge part of that supply chain. Renewable energy has a high upfront cost, but it’s very predictable. The sun doesn’t increase in cost depending on politics or hurricanes, nor does wind. If Apple is going to become the cloud provider for it’s growing tablet and phone market, it’s going to need to scale it’s cloud even further. That means controlling prices from it’s suppliers. Energy included. Apple can afford the high upfront costs of renewable energy. It can benefit from the longer term predictability and eventual drop in costs to scale this.
That is why I think they are doing this.