The world’s richest billionaire attacked the iPhone maker with a series of tweets on Monday, angering when Apple announced it was cutting ads on Twitter and even threatened to remove the social network. from the app store.
Musk said Apple hates free speech, criticizes app fees and even wondered if the tech giant could do the same with his other company, Tesla.
In targeting Apple, however, Musk is challenging a company vital to Twitter’s livelihood. According to people familiar with the matter, Apple has always been one of the top advertisers on the social network, and even Twitter has an entire staff dedicated to helping maintain relationships. One of them said Apple’s annual ad spend is over $100 million.
“Elon Musk now represents risk, and Apple won’t take that risk,” said Lou Paskalis, a senior communications and marketing executive who was previously in charge of advertising for Bank of America Corp.
Not to mention, Apple is also operating an essential gateway for Twitter users: the App Store. If Musk’s company loses access to it, it will disappear from more than 1.5 billion devices around the world.
Of course, Elon Musk has his own arguments. In describing his struggles as a fight for free speech, Musk is able to attract millions of fans. Software developers, lawmakers and regulators around the world also agree with Musk’s disdain for Apple’s app store fees, giving Musk a potential edge.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Several Twitter users said Monday that they continue to see Apple ads in their feeds. However, a person familiar with the matter confirmed that the company has reduced the advertising.
In the past, Apple used to hold meetings with Twitter to discuss a variety of issues — about once a week — like it does with other major social networking apps, including Facebook and Instagram. According to one of the people familiar with the matter, Apple used to rely heavily on Twitter because it didn’t advertise on Facebook.
Apple has joined several major companies in scaling back their ads on Twitter since Musk bought the company for $44 billion last month. The “migration” included General Mills and Pfizer. Musk himself admits that the departure of these brands has led to a “serious drop” in revenue.
The overall online advertising market is in decline, but marketers are particularly wary of Twitter out of concern that it will become more chaotic. Since taking over, Musk has cut thousands of jobs at Twitter, raising concerns that the platform won’t be able to combat hateful content and misinformation. A new approach to account verification also opens the door for scammers to impersonate major brands.
Musk, 51, is trying to make Twitter less dependent on ads by directing users to his Twitter Blue subscription service. But the reality is that advertising services generated nearly 90% of last year’s $5.1 billion in revenue, and most of it came from Apple.
A series of tweets criticizing Apple began with a statement that the company “almost stopped advertising on Twitter.” Musk asked: “Do they hate free speech in America?”
Musk then tweeted about Apple CEO Tim Cook: “What’s going on here?” Earlier this month, longtime Apple executive Phil Schiller, who oversees the app store, deleted his Twitter account. That was shortly after Musk restored the account of former President Donald Trump, who was permanently banned from the platform following the attack on the Capitol in January 2021.
Earlier, Musk said he would form a content panel to consider whether to reinstate Mr. Trump’s account. However, he later made the move based on the results of a Twitter poll. “He said the right things, but he did the wrong things and that produced worse results,” Paskalis said.
Apple’s Cook has continued to use personal Twitter since Musk’s acquisition. He posted a Thanksgiving message last week “have a nice day everyone”.
Previously, Musk tweeted that if Twitter was removed from the app stores of Apple and Google, he would create an alternative line of phones that could work with the platform. Fans of the idea — and critics alike — have started calling “Tesla phones,” and the hashtag trended on Twitter Monday.
SECRETS WILL BE DISCLOSED
Musk, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, has said that his mission at Twitter is to maximize freedom of expression. He frequently uses his personal account, which has more than 119 million followers, to criticize his supposed opponents and the mainstream media.
Musk has previously said that Apple charges an exorbitant fee for in-app purchases, and he continued to criticize this on Monday. He posted a meme hinting that it would be better to “go to war” than pay 30. % commission for the company.
The meme signaled that Musk might be considering going down the path of Epic Games Inc. and bypass Apple charges. When Epic made such a move, Apple removed the hit game Fortnite from the app store, sparking a years-long legal battle.
But if Musk wanted to start selling the Twitter Blue subscription service through the web — to avoid Apple’s 30% fee — he could already do so. The app store allows services to be available on multiple platforms using that approach.
The problem will arise if Twitter advertises an alternative in its app or adds a button that directs users to a payment option on the web. That move could risk getting Twitter removed from the app store.
In another tweet, Musk suggested that Apple had made a request for Twitter’s content moderation. He also posted a yes-no survey: “Apple should disclose all the censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.”
In controlling the two major mobile app stores, Apple and Google are often referred to as “monopoly,” a term Musk uses in his tweets. Politician Ken Buck also agreed with Musk and said that the US should end the monopoly of the app store before the end of the year. “Nobody should have this kind of market power,” he said.
Apple has strict rules for its app store that restrict objectionable content, including discriminatory content related to religion, race, and sexual orientation. They also limit pornography and overly realistic violence.
Apple and Google have previously removed social networks, including Parler, from their platforms due to inadequate content moderation. In Parler’s case, the app was eventually reinstated on both app stores after the social network followed a series of steps to ensure it was moderating content.
After posting numerous jabs at Apple, Musk has promised to provide more information about the company’s suppression of free speech in “The Twitter Files,” which will be published… on Twitter.
“The public deserves to know what really happened,” he said.