Is a conflict between Elon Musk and Apple brewing? Here's what you should know

  • In Business
  • 2022-11-29 18:44:12Z

As advertisers reportedly flee Twitter and employees depart, whether by choice or layoff, Elon Musk is taking jabs at tech giant Apple.

On Twitter - Musk's preferred platform of choice even before he closed a deal to buy the social media company for $44 billion - the CEO called out Apple and fellow chief executive Tim Cook over multiple issues, including advertising and the fees Apple charges to developers on its App Store.

The latest missives follow a flurry of activity at Twitter, which includes plans to relaunch the Twitter Blue subscription service aimed at verifying real users with a checkmark.

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Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition on March 9, 2020, in Washington.
Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition on March 9, 2020, in Washington.  

What did Musk say about Apple?

It started with a tweet Monday from Musk on Apple and advertising. "Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter," Musk wrote. "Do they hate free speech in America?" Musk followed with another tweet directly asking Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Musk then claimed Apple threatened to withhold Twitter from the App Store, followed by a separate tweet criticizing fees Apple charges to developers who create apps for products including the iPhone and iPad.

How has Apple responded?

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

New fight over Apple developer fees

It's not the first time Apple has encountered pushback over the fees it charges app developers. In 2020, Facebook, which has since changed its company name to Meta, swiped at Apple over what it called a "30% App Store tax" it requires developers to pay.

Last year, Facebook said it would not take a cut of revenue from creators on its platforms until 2023.

Then there was the high-profile battle with Epic Games, creators of the hit video game Fortnite. A mobile version of the game was removed from the App Store after Epic introduced the option for players to make purchases outside Apple's digital storefront.

Epic sued Apple over the decision. Last year, a federal judge ruled Apple must allow developers to include links offering payment options outside the App Store. However, the court did not conclude Apple holds a monopoly.

Epic filed an appeal claiming Apple runs a monopoly stifling competition.

Why are advertisers leaving Twitter?

Half of Twitter's top 100 advertisers have halted spending on the platform since Musk took over the company at the end of October, according to a report by liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America published last week.

Those 50 brands have spent nearly $2 billion in advertising on the platform since 2020, said the report.

Advocacy groups have called for advertisers to pull campaigns from Twitter because of fears over how the social media platform will moderate content under Musk, who has long sought a lighter touch on moderation.

In a message to advertisers, Musk said Twitter can't become a "free-for-all hellscape."

Why Musk-Apple relationship matters

Apple reportedly spends a lot of money to advertise on Twitter. The tech giant spends well over $100 million a year on ads, reports Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Apple maintains rigid guidelines on apps allowed within its iPhone, iPad and other ecosystems. A Twitter app with looser content moderation guidelines could subject itself to penalties from Apple, including removal from the App Store.

Contributing: Amanda Pérez Pintado

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Elon Musk jabs Apple. Is a conflict brewing? Here's what to know


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