Musk’s war with Apple underscores his power over Twitter

  • Elon Musk has criticized Apple’s App Store policies, and other tech CEOs have voiced their support.
  • Musk, who has 119 million Twitter followers, has a new focus on Apple’s strict control over iOS apps.
  • Apple has successfully defended its policy in previous court battles, but Musk is creating a new headache.

Tim Cook can’t be happy that Elon Musk has decided to wage “war” against Apple.

Musk is a powerful, vocal man with powerful, vocal friends, and his continued criticism promises to shine a very public light on how much power Apple has over Twitter and other app-based businesses — a headache for a company that has had to defend. his politics in the past at court and in Congress.

Musk made his main criticism clear tweet reply To PayPal Mafia member David Sacks: Apple, as well as Google, “effectively controls access to most of the Internet through their app stores.”

For example, if Apple decides it doesn’t like a certain app, it can pull it from the App Store—essentially removing it from a good portion of the web, or at least 50% of the US market. Uses an iPhone.

It did so with the Parler app, which Apple removed after the Capitol siege on January 6. Parler tightened its moderation policies and Apple allowed it to return to the App Store, but the company described it as a “PG” version with “improved threat and incitement reporting tools.” Now Musk is relaxing Twitter’s content moderation policies, and tech watchers say Apple may even pull it from the App Store. An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Musk’s comments prior to publication.

That’s a lot of power for a company, Musk says. While other companies — notably Fortnite maker Epic Games — have sued Apple, the company has stood firm: It maintains its role as gatekeeper.

But will more people take notice with Musk’s buzz?

Already, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that Congress must act if Twitter is ever banned from the App Store.

If Musk eventually throws the match that ignites the fire that forces Apple to change, it could become one of its biggest cash cows: Apple gets a 30% cut of any in-app sales made through the App Store. Musk also aimed for this.

Musk claimed that Apple has already threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store. (When asked two weeks ago about the possibility of a Twitter takedown, Apple CEO Cook told CBS News, “They say they’re going to continue to moderate … I believe they will.”)

Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” who likes to make quick changes at the companies he leads, may ultimately limit his view of Twitter to Apple’s policies. Failure to follow their policies risks getting Twitter removed from the App Store, which can certainly hurt Twitter’s bottom line.

Twitter wrote in a December 2021 SEC filing that its mobile business “depends on and may be affected by digital storefront operators such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store review groups.”

That’s a concern for any business that makes software — and Musk’s comments prompted others in the tech industry to repeat past criticisms of the iPhone maker.

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney expressed support for Musk’s comments about Apple.

Sweeney knows what it’s like to go head-to-head with company. Apple pulled Epic’s hit game “Fortnite” from the App Store in 2020 after Epic allowed players to pay the company directly for in-game purchases, violating Apple’s policies. Epic is suing Apple, alleging “unfair and anti-competitive practices.”

The discovery process that Apple wants to avoid is lawsuits like Epic’s, which involve depositions and depositions. Although a judge ruled last year that Apple’s practices were not antitrust, the ruling still ordered Apple to allow software developers to link to alternative ways to make purchases that would avoid the so-called Apple tax.

Concessions like the one in Apple’s battle with Epic could affect Apple’s services business, which generated more than $19 billion in revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter. Apple filed an appeal against the decision in the Epic court.

Musk is now trying to put Apple in the hot seat that Tim Cook and Apple have largely tried to avoid.

Tuesday, Musk he tweeted “The people have spoken,” asked “Should Apple publish all censorship actions that affect its customers,” in response to Monday’s poll.

More than 84% of the 2.2 million responses voted yes.

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