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Elon Musk alleges Apple is threatening to pull Twitter from App Store

Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley explains how in a series of tweets, Elon Musk claimed that Apple has essentially stopped advertising on Twitter since he took over the company.

Video transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

DAVE BRIGGS: Elon Musk is making more waves after his Twitter takeover, tweeting earlier that Apple has threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store. Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley is here with the latest. He's just got a bunch of popcorn sitting here and watching Elon tweet. Dan, it is remarkable. Here's the playbook. Let me scare off all the advertisers and then take on the biggest company in the world that literally controls your success or failure. What do you make of all this?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, it's really an interesting move, right? Because he kind of started this out just as claiming that they are trying to fight them. Basically, the first tweet that he sent on this was that Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Then he questioned whether they hate free speech in America.

Then he said that they're censoring people, asking who else they're censoring, saying that they have a, quote unquote, "secret" 30% tax for app developers or at the App Store. This is all kind of seemingly just show because he wants to turn Twitter into a subscription-based service. And so the 30% fee would be applied to anybody who makes a-- seemingly would be applied to anybody who purchases a subscription through the Twitter iOS app. That's basically how Apple works.

And, you know, this fee isn't secret at all. It was kind of the main piece of a lawsuit, an antitrust lawsuit between Epic and Apple over "Fortnite." So it's not as though this is some unheard of fee that companies have to pay. There's also the idea that Musk is taking on Apple and essentially threatening that they could take Twitter out of the App Store.

Now, it's not unheard of for Apple to do that. They have removed Parler previously before reinstating it because Apple didn't like the lack of moderation on that platform. And, you know, it really is entirely up to Apple what apps are allowed on the service. There's been arguments as to whether that's fair or not, but it is on their terms of service, and companies have to abide by that if they want to appear on the App Store.

Apple's response to that usually is, if you don't want to be on the App Store, there's Android. So, you know, I think the big grand picture here is that Twitter needs Apple far more than Apple needs Twitter. I highly doubt that people, unless they're huge Elon Musk fans, are going to ditch their iPhone and years of photos and conversations just because they can't get access to Twitter. They'll figure out some other way to get to it, perhaps via the web app or something along those lines. But yeah, this is a very interesting fight and one that Elon Musk seems very interested in picking.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, and Elon has said before that he might just go and build his own phone. Don't know how realistic that is, but what are his options here? Because it really makes you think he might be grasping at straws, but he's pretty famous for going for these moonshots.

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, he goes after companies like this. According to a report by the Financial Times, he had called up a number of or reached out to a number of advertising companies or companies that slowed their advertising or ceased advertising on Twitter, and basically criticized them for doing so. You got to imagine that's not going to play out well for those advertisers in their future on the platform.

But as far as his chances or what he could do, he could try to lobby against the 30% App Store fee. That's something that a lot of companies have tried to do in the past. And it's being looked at in different jurisdictions around the world. But making a new phone? I don't think that's going to get many people on board.

DAVE BRIGGS: You know you got a cat over your shoulder, right, brother? I mean, you are unphased.

DAN HOWLEY: Ah.

DAVE BRIGGS: There he is. What's his name? Is it Apple, or is it Elon?

DAN HOWLEY: No, that's Buddy, and he's chewing on the Christmas lights because he does that every year.

JARED BLIKRE: All right, got to leave it there. Dan Howley and feline friend, thank you for that report.