For days, Elon Musk publicly approached Apple. After meeting CEO Tim Cook, his biggest concern is now off the table. Cook should have been less concerned with Twitter. The app is part of a bigger problem for Apple.

After a meeting with Apple boss Tim Cook, Twitter’s owner Elon Musk was able to announce the good news on Wednesday: Twitter is not threatened with being kicked out of the App Store as feared. However, whether this decision really has anything to do with Musk is another matter. At the moment, Apple simply cannot afford to be perceived as the judge of the good or bad of important apps.

That wasn’t an issue with Musk. “A good conversation. Among other things, we were able to clarify the misunderstanding that Apple is threatening to remove Twitter from the App Store,” says a tweet. Musk had recently spread this fear himself. He is concerned with defending freedom of expression, he said on Wednesday. “This is the fight for the future of civilization. If we lose freedom of speech in America, only tyranny can ensue.”

No access for third parties

Even a few opponents would accuse the company of wanting tyranny. When it comes to freedom of speech, things are a little different. Apple has been a champion of diversity for years, and does not tolerate apps in the App Store that allow unmoderated hate speech or attacks on minorities. And: Apple can also enforce this. Because you can’t install apps on iPhones and iPads that haven’t been approved by Apple, right-wing hate programs like the “Infowars” conspiracy app can’t be found on Apple’s mobile devices.

However, this power is under scrutiny. As part of a draft law, representatives of the US House of Representatives presented a draft law last year that would also allow apps from third-party sources to be used on iPhones and iPads. Apple is the last major operating system operator to ban this practice, known as “side loading,” on its mobile devices. Google and Microsoft already allow it.

monopoly allegations

So far, Apple has always successfully defended itself against corresponding attempts at regulation. The reasoning of the group: If you allow users to install apps from potentially unsafe sources, you cannot guarantee the security of the devices to the same extent. In fact, far fewer malware infections are known to exist on Apple’s mobile devices than is the case with Google’s Android system.

However, there is also a strong financial incentive for the practice for Apple. Like Google, the group demands a share of between 15 and 30 percent for every purchase made via the App Store. If customers were now to regularly download apps from third parties, this income would be lost. In addition, the app providers could also circumvent Apple’s rule that all purchases in apps must also be made via the app store’s payment system.

Abolishing this restriction would be highly lucrative for many app providers. For example, Netflix does not offer its subscriptions via the app at all, the “Fortnite” developer Epic Gaames even tried to collect money with its own payment system from Apple – and promptly flew out of the App Store. Since then, the company has been trying to force Apple to open up its supposed monopoly App Store with lawsuits.

Musk teases

Of course, Elon Musk is also aware of this. He’s been teasing Apple’s “30 percent tax on the Internet” for days. This is of course related to his plans for Twitter. Because the group urgently needs money – even more than before the takeover – it wants to significantly increase the income from the Twitter Blue subscription model. If many users subscribe via the app, Musk would have 30 percent less income because of Apple’s levy.

No wonder some observers see Musk’s attacks on Apple primarily as a strategy to secure those revenues. And with the reference to freedom of expression to put political pressure on Apple.

Pressure from Washington

Prominent Republicans like Trump competitor Ron DeSantis have already joined Musk’s bandwagon. At a press conference on Wednesday, he said that if Apple were kicked out of Twitter, it would clearly demonstrate its monopoly power. This is happening “because Elon Musk is actually restoring freedom of expression there,” said the Republican. Twitter had begun restoring many suspended accounts in recent days, including many belonging to right-wing US conservatives. “If Apple were to kick them out because of this, it would be a huge mistake — and a clear use of its monopoly power,” DeSantis said.

Apple seems to be aware of the growing pressure. CEO Tim Cook traveled to Washington this week and had several appointments with Republican MPs. According to reports from “Bloomberg”, these dates were agreed before Musk’s failures. Since then, however, the topic has probably only gained in importance.

It remains to be seen whether the situation will actually ease after the meeting between Cook and Musk. Musk’s extreme interpretation of free speech has caused conflicts with numerous advertisers since the Twitter takeover. Companies, including Apple, fear an increase in extremist or problematic content if Twitter scales back its moderation. And therefore prefer to withdraw the advertising budget. Musk didn’t respond with a new content strategy. But with the attempt to make the subscription fees independent of advertising.

Quellen:Twitter, CNBC, Washington Post, Florida Politics, Bloomberg