Can Elon Musk Afford To Pick A Fight With Apple?

Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, cannot afford to engage in conflict with Apple, which has exclusive control over one of the two largest mobile app marketplaces outside of China. But he is still seeking conflict.

On Monday, Nov. 28, Musk tweeted that “Apple has largely stopped advertising on Twitter.” Do they despise freedom of speech in America? @tim cook, what’s going on here? He then tweeted a critique of Apple’s content policies and market dominance as a quote.

Musk continued, without elaborating, that Twitter’s presence in the App Store is under threat from Apple. A request for comment on the subject was not immediately met by Apple.

Apple controls more than half of the US market despite producing only 16% of the world’s cell phones, according to Gartner. Apple still effectively controls a sizable portion of the mobile app sector, despite recent legal actions and international legislation that have put its hold on its own app store at risk.

Apple not only retains 30% of the subscription fees from many apps, but it also enforces its own content moderation guidelines, which apps must follow in order to stay in its store.

On the merits, Musk’s impending feud with Apple might be justifiable. It’s simple to blame Apple for overcharging customers, enforcing top-down speech limitations on a global market, or otherwise abusing its market position by taking an excessive percentage. But by engaging in that battle, Musk is endangering Twitter’s operations at a time when the firm can’t possibly afford it.

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It’s difficult to see how Musk will generate any revenue in the near future if he decides to engage in a simultaneous conflict with app stores and advertisers.

Musk hasn’t done much, if anything, to placate advertisers since assuming control of Twitter on October 27. In the second quarter of 2022, when Twitter was still a publicly traded corporation, advertising accounted for 92% of its overall revenue. The remaining funds came from data licensing and an emerging subscription company.

Musk ran for office promising to expand the subscription service Twitter Blue and raise the cost to $8 per month. However, he differentiated it by including the sale of blue-check verification badges in the package, which caused a great deal of misunderstanding about who is a well-known person on the app and who only paid $8.

Musk now asserts that Apple has expressed concern about his content moderation guidelines and enforcement, which have recently been severely impacted by staff and contractor layoffs. The time is running out for Elon Musk’s Twitter because it is responsible for $1 billion in interest payments alone per year.

Musk may be joking on Twitter and sharing jokes about starting a war with the Cupertino-based internet giant, but according to Shoemaker, maintaining a strong relationship with Apple is “life and death” for Twitter’s operations.

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