Elon Musk has postponed again the relaunch of Twitter Bluewhich should have returned today: this time the paid blue checks would have been postponed to avoid paying the 30% to Apple. In fact, it seems that the social would like to find a payment system that bypasses in-app purchases through the App Store, to avoid what Musk has called a “internet tax”.
Twitter Blue, relaunch postponed to avoid the “Apple tax”
The fact that Apple is asking developers for 30% of the revenue from in-app purchases on iOS is nothing new. The then CEO of Apple Steve Jobs had announced it from the stage in 2008. And after the process with Epic Games for payments on Fortnite (which goes back to court), even non-developers have heard of this practice from Apple. Which asks 15% to developers who make up to a million dollars a year, the 30% to who gets the most.
So for Elon Musk it certainly wasn’t a last minute surprise. Though perhaps he forgot about it in the frenzy of announcements, layoffs, and changes of direction that followed the Twitter takeover. Or more likely, they are other Apple decisions that the billionaire is unable to accept.
Musk vs Apple
In fact, in the last few hours the new CEO has challenged Apple several times, complaining about the decisions taken by Cupertino. First of all, having withdrawn advertising from the platform. A heavy blow for Twitter, given that Apple was the first advertiser: in the first three months of 2022 it had paid Twitter $48 million, about 4% of all advertising on the platform (dai Washington Post).
Musk ha tweeted of this decision by Apple asking whether the Apple “hates free speech in America.” Without however specifying that the main American advertising agencies have also withdrawn the advertisements and advised customers against advertising on Twitter. Mainly because of the blue check disaster, where several users made fun of large companies by pretending to be their official account.
Also, Musk has tweeted that “Apple has also threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but he won’t tell us why“. But as Twitter ex-head of security Yoel Roth explains in the New York Times, Apple had already encountered critical issues regarding the content moderation on Twitter. And the situation since Musk fired thousands of employees and announced fewer content controls and amnesties for banned people has certainly not improved. The CEO of the social network can say he disagrees, but not that Apple has not been clear.
The relaunch of Twitter Blue and the Apple tax: how will it end?
Given what happened in these hours, when Musk writes “Did you know that Apple puts a secret tax of 30% on everything you buy through the App Store?” he really doesn’t want to bring back a secret. He wants to prove his position and give Apple bad publicity. Who is now no longer Twitter’s top advertiser, he wants to enforce content moderation. And he asks the 30% of in-app purchases, as it always has.
Apple’s “internet tax” has long been contested, it didn’t come as a surprise to Twitter (which already paid it). But to get around it, you need an alternative payment system. To do like Netflix or other streaming services, Twitter should offer the possibility to subscribe to Twitter Blue on the site instead of through the Apple App Store. But at the moment we don’t know when that will happen.
If and when the verified account blue check subscription is availablewill cost $8 and require phone number verification. But it remains to evaluate how many users will join: Will they be enough to repay Twitter for lost advertising revenue?