“It was a good conversation. Among other things, we fixed the misunderstanding about Twitter’s potential removal from the App Store. Tim was clear: Apple never thought of doing this.” Thus Elon Musk ends a week of rumors about the future of the app. He will remain on the Apple store, and even more so on Android, where the question had never been asked.
And it’s not that Tim Cook has changed his mind: the App Store guidelines have remained the same, and require that apps with user-generated content always undergo moderation: to remove offenses, impersonations, copyright infringements and publication of sensitive material. Therefore, here the news is also another: that Musk must have reassured the CEO of Apple on Twitter’s commitment to clean up the social network from this type of content, probably by enhancing the artificial intelligence algorithms and above all by expanding the team of moderators humans, currently – it seems – reduced to a single person.
Apple CEO Tim Cook: “Apps can change the world”
by our correspondent Bruno Ruffilli
In a previous tweet, Musk thanks Cook for letting him visit the “beautiful” Cupertino headquarters and posts a short video of the Apple Park pond in the internal garden. Cook hasn’t tweeted anything since Thanksgiving, he has never confirmed this meeting or that of a few years ago, but in the few seconds of Musk’s video you can recognize the shadows of the two reflected in the water. An idyllic scenario, where there seems to be no room for another controversy raised a few days ago: Cook’s company would have significantly reduced advertising costs on the social network since Musk became the owner of Twitter. This too was an instrumental attack, given that it used the week of the launch of the new iPads as a yardstick, when of course the commercials were more numerous. It should be added here that for Apple the social network of choice is certainly Twitter, considering that it is not even present on Facebook.
Of the third point, the “web tax” that Apple requires of those who develop apps, there is no trace in Musk’s recent utterances. He deleted the tweet where he revealed what he called “a secret”, namely that the platforms receive 30% of the proceeds from in-app sales and did not mention the matter about the meeting. Yet this may have been precisely the reason that prompted Cook to invite him with unexpected solicitude to Apple headquarters. Not to change the rules, but to clarify them: the 30% allocated to Apple has existed since the beginning of the App Store, and Google adopts exactly the same procedure on its Play Store. More: for some years Apple has reduced to 15% the amount withheld from in-app purchases for applications that bill less than a million dollars a year, followed immediately by Google. The theme is of crucial importance for Musk, who wants to make Twitter a super app capable of offering various services, from payments to entertainment; therefore, 30% of everything purchased using the app itself would go to Apple, starting with the 8 dollars for the blue check (but also gold and gray, if they are paid). For this reason, it seems, Musk is postponing its availability. Here too, he won’t need to invent much: already today those who subscribe to Twitter or Spotify can do so using other payment platforms and therefore without paying a single cent to Apple or Google.
The theme of platform neutrality remains, of what Musk himself called Apple’s “monopoly” on the destruction of apps, and it is an important issue, on which developers, companies and governments around the world are discussing. For Musk, a non-disinterested advocate of freedom of expression to the bitter end, it is a crucial point in truly making Twitter a global marketplace in which to discuss everything, as he has promised to users and shareholders. And to his 119.6 million followers on Twitter, among which there is one more: Tim Cook, who followed only 69 people until yesterday, today follows 70.