Elon Musk Threatens To Make New Smartphone If Apple And Google Ban Twitter

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Nov 27 2022
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Twitter has a new boss – world’s richest man Elon Musk. With a net worth of US$191.2 billion on Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaire List, the social media platform becomes his latest toy after splashing US$44 billion. His obsession with Twitter has triggered speculations about his motives. Many thought he wants to advance a hard-right political agenda. Some said he wanted to rule the world.


He has already reinstated the account of Donald Trump based on a poll result. The former U.S. president saw his Twitter account suspended in 2021 on grounds that it risked inciting violence after his supporters had stormed the U.S. Capitol. However, Trump, who has announced plans to run again for the US presidency in 2024, said he may not return to Twitter.


Musk appears to enjoy playing God with Twitter, granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts and asking people in polls whether he should do something that crosses his mind. But the fact that he has fired half the company’s 7,500-person workforce, including top executives, suggests that he saw a business opportunity with the acquisition of the social media platform.

Tesla New Smartphone

The world’s richest man, who made his first billion building PayPal payment platform in the 1990s, most likely wanted to transform Twitter as yet another payment business. According to an investor document obtained by the New York Times, Musk has predicted Twitter will generate US$1.2 billion in payment revenue by 2028. As a businessman, it’s laughable he would burn so much money for political reason.


Besides championing “free speech”, Musk wants to diversify the company’s business from purely rely on advertising to generating at least half of its revenue from subscriptions. It’s an open secret that he “hates advertising”. Twitter has been struggling in the advertising business as compared to rivals such as Facebook, largely because it didn’t offer the same level of user targeting.


The new plan is to charge US$8-per-month version of the Twitter Blue subscription service that allowed users to buy a verification checkmark. Some new features to be rolled out include fewer ads, priority in replies, mentions and search and the ability to post longer videos than the current limit of 2 minutes and 20 seconds.

Elon Musk - Twitter Blue Subscription

However, Musk’s plans for Twitter could put it on a collision course with two of the biggest tech giants – Apple and Google. He has complained about app store fees that Google and Apple charge companies like Twitter. Tagging Department of Justice’s antitrust division, Musk unleashed his tweet – “App store fees are obviously too high due to the iOS/Android duopoly. It is a hidden 30% tax on the Internet.”


The new owner of Twitter was complaining about the 15% to 30% cut Apple and Google take from purchases made inside apps, which could eat into the desperately-needed revenue from Musk’s plans for US$8 per month from Twitter Blue subscriptions. In retaliation, Phil Schiller, the former head Apple marketing executive who still oversees the App Store, deleted his Twitter account.


Twitter and Apple have been partners for years. In 2011, Apple deeply integrated tweets into its iOS operating system, using Twitter as a platform to advertise new iPhones and its big launch events. But the relationship could change for the worse as Musk moves to generate a larger bulk of income from subscriptions. Twitter reported US$5.08 billion in revenue in 2021.

Twitter - Lauching Apps

He could adopt the same business model like Spotify, offering a lower US$9.99 price where it doesn’t pay Apple a cut, or copy Netflix model that stopped offering subscriptions through Apple entirely in 2018. Alternatively, Musk could sell Twitter Blue on the company’s website at a cheaper price, bypassing Apple ecosystem. But both Apple and Google could retaliate against Twitter.


Apple and Google are extremely powerful due to their ability to decline to approve or even pull apps that violate their rules over content moderation and harmful content. Both tech giants could easily ban Twitter under the pretext that the social media app in its stores contains hate or discriminatory speech, bullying, harassment, and sexually explicit content.


Even without using hate speech as an excuse to ban Twitter, Apple’s App Store can immediately pull the plug today because the social media allows adult content – a violation against Apple’s policy that disallows pornography. Facing the possibility of a complete pull-out from Apple and Google systems, the Tesla founder has pre-emptively fired a warning shot.

Elon Musk – SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, OpenAI

Elon Musk threatens to build its own phone if Apple and Google decide to kick Twitter off their app stores. After all, this is the man who builds rockets to Mars. So, how difficult it is to build a silly little smartphone, right? While building another phone is easy, it’s a different kettle of fish to also build its own operating system – different from Google Android.


Microsoft, the world’s second most valuable company after Apple, had tried to challenge both giants by creating the Windows Phone platform and failed spectacularly. Chances are neither Apple nor Google would ban Twitter, at least for now, to avoid giving Musk the publicity that the billionaire was looking for.


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