THE global boss of Ford motor company has used a trip to Cork to send a stark message to the city's biggest employer, Apple.
The technology company this week announced it is entering the motoring market for the first time and William Clay Ford Jr declared: "We would rather be friends - but we are willing to punch it out if we have to."
Mr Ford, great-grandson of the company's founder Henry, who was on a trip to his family's roots in Ballinascarthy, West Cork, yesterday to mark the centenary of Ford in Ireland, also raised the intriguing possibility of Ford and Apple collaborating in the future, after Apple revealed this week that it is to begin testing on driver-less 'autonomous' vehicles of the future.
It's a battle that pits together Cork's biggest employer of the 20th century - thousands worked at its Marina plant between 1919 and 1984 - and the city's biggest employer of the 21st century.
Mr Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, said of the Apple rivalry: "We are willing to take on all comers. But there is an equal possibility these competitors could become collaborators. The scenario has yet to play out.
"We will see lots of alliances, we may compete with them on one front and co-operate on another. I don't rule anything out. One thing is for sure, we are here for the duration."
Mr Ford also said Cork must tap into its technology and IT strengths in order to succeed in the future, moving away from its manufacturing base of the past.