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Apple Sued For Poaching Engineers From Battery Maker A123

Apple is being sued by A123, a company that manufactures batteries for electric cars, for influencing many of its lead engineers to leave A123 to work on similar projects at Apple.

As a result of the loss of employees, A123 has reportedly been forced to stop development on many of its projects. The reason for Apple poaching these employees is currently unknown, but there are two prevailing theories.

One possibility is that Apple wants to start its own dedicated battery manufacturing division. The batteries developed by A123 are based on lithium-ion technology, and while they were designed for electric cars, the technology is similar to lithium-ion batteries used in mobile devices.

Apple enjoys massive success with its iPhones, and it has a profitable line of laptops, as well. Acquiring personnel with the technical expertise to design lithium-ion batteries for use in Apple products could lower costs, allow Apple to better control the supply and quality, and could also result in better battery performance on its devices.

It's also possible, though probably less likely, that Apple might be trying to develop its own electric car. Apple has been picking up employees from electric car company Tesla, too. Tesla has huge plans for developing and manufacturing batteries, so the Tesla and A123 poaches could point to Apple building out a battery division, but perhaps Apple is recruiting talent to make an electric car.

Targeting Tesla's employees lends a bit of credence to the theory that Apple is trying to develop an electric car division. Recently, GM's ex-CEO Dan Akerson stated that it would be a bad idea for Apple to attempt building a car, because the regulations and safety requirements made manufacturing cars difficult.

That may be true, but Apple has deep pockets after years of financial success. It may just have the needed resources to finance development of a car, and thanks to hiring employees from Tesla and A123, it now has some experienced personnel for the project -- or for a battery division.

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Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.