Elon Musk claims, without providing evidence, that Apple threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store. He would have decided to “go to war” against Apple, in the name of “freedom of expression”.
For Elon Musk, everything is a political fight. Since he took control of Twitter at the end of October, the billionaire hasn’t stopped talking about him with increasingly implausible actions, on which he never seems to question himself. It must be said that, in his world, everything is done to let him think he is right. Each of his publications is followed by thousands of declarations of love from his fans, all convinced that Elon Musk cannot fail since he created Tesla and SpaceX (his entourage, too, praises everything he does). Even more fascinating, the billionaire seems convinced that his behavior would act in favor of ” freedom of speech “, threatened by the wicked left which wants to silence a too censored right (but which nevertheless constantly complains about it). We deliberately caricature, but the reality is not so far away.
On November 28, Elon Musk, who already does not have enough time for his other businesses, embarked on a new political fight. Its target is, neither more nor less, than the biggest company on the planet, and it had, a priori, asked for nothing. Elon Musk wants to wage war on Apple, but his intentions are diverse and not always consistent. Withdrawal of Twitter ads, tax on the App Store, threat to remove Twitter from the App Store, desire to compete with the iPhone, non-support for freedom of expression and financing of the Democratic Party… Elon Musk accuses Apple of many evils, and seems to see only one way out: an ideological war.
What does Elon Musk reproach Apple for?
Was there really a fight between Apple and Elon Musk, or is the billionaire getting carried away? According to him, Apple has threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store, which he perceives as an attempt to censor free speech.
However, in the absence of a screenshot of the exchange between Apple and Twitter (if that exchange actually existed), it’s hard to imagine Elon Musk telling the truth. Most likely Apple reminded Twitter that the Twitter Blue subscription must go through the App Store’s payment engine (with a 30% charge, as for all developers) or that Apple has reminded Twitter that it does not accept social networks that do not moderate content . But on this subject, Tim Cook had said in an interview at the beginning of November that he saw no problem in the case of Twitter.
Despite the lack of evidence, Elon Musk has been increasing attacks against Apple since November 28. The Twitter boss criticizes the company for a lot of things, including some that have nothing to do with his application:
- Elon Musk criticizes Apple for having suspended part of its advertising campaigns on Twitter. He forgets to specify that the agency in charge of publicity at Apple is at the origin of this decision, and that other customers are concerned (but few bring in as much money as Apple).
- Elon Musk thinks that Apple serves the American left, since the company gives a lot to the Democratic Party (most companies in Silicon Valley, located in California, do so). He sees an ideological bias and wants to fight it, since he immediately makes the shortcut between these donations and this supposed censorship. Since taking power at Twitter, Elon Musk has shared many similar conspiracy theories. For him (and many other Americans), there is a culture war between left and right. Paradoxically, Musk sees no contradiction with his own behavior, he who asked his 100 million subscribers to vote for the Republican Party.
In a style now all his own (Donald Trump’s account has been reactivated that way), Elon Musk posted a poll asking his fans if Apple should reveal how much it censors its customers. Obviously, the “yes” wins. Elon Musk also asked developers to tell him how Apple would have censored them, and said he was shocked at each response (in his defense, Apple has often admitted to having gone too far, but Elon Musk still mixes up a lot of things).
Will Apple respond to Elon Musk?
After causing chaos at Twitter, can Elon Musk achieve it at Apple?
Given the structure of the company, which prefers the long term and which never acts impulsively, all this seems unlikely to us. Apple will probably not react to this story, even if it risks gaining momentum over the statements of Elon Musk. The billionaire seems to be making free speech his main obsession again, after focusing on fake accounts when he took office.
There is, however, a scenario that could cause things to escalate.
It’s unlikely, if not impossible, that Apple will kick Twitter out of the App Store for no reason. But Elon Musk could cause his app to be ousted, only to pose as a victim by playing with the rules of the App Store (like Fortnite did). It would be enough for Twitter to add an alternative payment engine, like PayPal, to break the rules. In this case, Apple would have no choice but to temporarily remove Twitter, while waiting for the company to comply with its rules. But if Elon Musk really wants to go to war, then he would probably prefer to attack Apple. Then would follow a long trial, in which Twitter has much more to lose than Apple (at least in the short term).
And the Tesla Phone, in all this?
How to end this article without mentioning the rumor of the moment, namely the launch of a smartphone manufactured by a company of Elon Musk to compete with Apple and Google? An idea that comes from the billionaire himself, who was responding to a conservative podcaster who asked him to do this if the App Store and Play Store were to ban Twitter in the future (again, Elon Musk and his fans are the the only ones to imagine this possible scenario. One would think that they were trying to provoke it).
Our readers will forgive us this familiarity, but this idea seems simply silly to us. Why ? Simply because Elon Musk and Liz Wheeler don’t distinguish between hardware and software. In the event that Twitter would be banned from the App Store and the Play Store, launching a Tesla Phone would not change the problem, since Twitter still could not be downloaded on this famous smartphone. Elon Musk could of course launch his own app store, but how likely are major developers to follow him when advertisers are already deserting his Twitter? The failure of Huawei, which has put all the means in the world to do without the Play Store, is proof that such a project is doomed to failure.
Even though Musk fans all say they would leave Apple and Samsung if Tesla launches a smartphone, of course the reality would be different. The smartphone market has been mature since the early 2010s, and cannot be turned upside down in such a way, even for “a man who sends rockets to Mars”.
If Twitter left app stores one day, the social network could still exist as a web-app (available everywhere) or a file apk install from twitter.com (Android only). Selling a phone with Twitter preinstalled would be pointless.