Apple and Elon Musk will fight each other. On Monday, the CEO of Tesla and the newly appointed head of Twitter went to his social media platform to criticize Apple for its 30% App Store fees and the iPhone manufacturer for reducing its online advertising.
Musk questioned whether Apple opposes free speech in America in a series of tweets claiming the corporation was stifling speech by imposing strict content guidelines on apps sold through its app store. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, was particularly mentioned by Musk in one tweet.
Musk claims that Apple has ceased running the majority of its Twitter advertisements. If this is the case, Apple wouldn't be the only company to stop running Twitter ads. In the weeks following Musk's turbulent takeover, businesses ranging from GM and VW to General Mills and Eli Lilly have either reduced their platform ad expenditure or quit advertising entirely.
Musk also responded to a tweet from The Verge's deputy editor Jake Kastrenakes, who claimed that if Twitter doesn't comply with Apple's moderation requirements, the social media platform will be kicked out of the App Store.
Apple Has a History of Removing Apps
Apple removing apps from the App Store is also not unheard of. The business halted the Parler app in 2021 for failing to moderate user content, which included what it claimed to be violent threats at the time (1). After Parler pledged to monitor content properly, Apple eventually allowed the app to run again.
The volatile Musk continued by alleging that Apple imposes a "hidden 30% tax" on goods customers buy from the App Store. Apple's charging schedule has long been known to the general public. Additionally, it was the focus of an antitrust lawsuit Epic brought against Apple in 2021.
Twitter's Plan To Reduce Dependence on ADs
Musk is trying to shift the company away from primarily relying on advertising and more toward subscription services, which is why he aimed at Apple's App Store prices. Twitter's total revenue for 2021 was $5.1 billion, of which $4.5 billion was from advertising.
By redesigning Twitter Blue, which allowed users to buy verification badges, Musk has already attempted to transition to a subscription model. But it came to a head when trolls bought badges to pose as brands like Nestlé and celebrities like Lebron James.
What Would All This Come Down To?
Musk would inevitably run across Apple's 30% fee if his subscription ideas were to take off. In other words, Musk would ultimately have to pay Apple 30% of every subscription payment made by users through the App Store.
Since buying Twitter for $44 billion in October, Musk has had a few run-ins with other businesses. Apple isn't the only one. According to the Financial Times, he contacted several advertisers and chastised them for reducing the number of social network ads they were running.
Furthermore, Musk's criticism of Apple is a risky move. Apple must ensure that Twitter's services are accessible to the more than 1 billion active iOS devices made by the hardware manufacturer. Without Apple, Twitter would experience a huge decline in the number of people it could attract.
Musk's conflict currently seems to be rather one-sided. And it's impossible to predict whether it will get worse or end altogether. However, based on the appearance of one tweet where he used an image to suggest he was going to war with the corporation, this is probably not the last we'll hear about this controversy.