Sound the klaxons! Elon Musk is picking a fight with Apple. Twitter’s new owner blasted the tech giant yesterday in a tweet claiming that “Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?”. He later followed up with a separate allegation: “Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.”
Apple has yet to respond publicly.
‘If you don’t spend lots of money with us you hate free speech’ is certainly a… unique approach to the advertising business, but it seems Musk does things differently. The Financial Times claimed yesterday that he has also “sought to personally call chief executives of some brands that have curbed advertising in order to berate them”.
Falling out with Apple would certainly be a risky move for Twitter: the Washington Post reported that the company spent $48m advertising on Twitter in the first quarter of this year – more than 4% of the latter’s revenues.
However, being withheld from the App Store would be an even bigger problem. Musk seems to be learning on the job, based on his follow-up tweet saying “Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?” This is the opposite of a secret – it’s the most well-known stat in the apps industry – but Musk’s protest is bringing him into the orbit of Spotify’s ‘Time to Play Fair’ campaign.
No wonder Spotify CEO Daniel Ek retweeted two of Musk’s Apple tweets yesterday, although until the full story is known behind Twitter’s App Store approvals issues, we’d counsel against too eager an ‘any critic of Apple is a friend of ours’ stance.