Elon Musk takes power from Apple and prepares a conflict

SAN FRANCISCO — “What’s going on here @tim_cook?” Elon Musk tweeted on Monday to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, who ignites a dispute between the world’s richest man and the world’s most valuable public company.

In a series of tweets spanning 15 minutes, Mr. Musk, Twitter’s new owner, accused Apple of threatening to withhold Twitter from its app store, a move that would prevent some new users from downloading the app. The action would amount to censorship, Mr Musk said. He added that Apple has also reduced its ad spend on Twitter.

With the tweets, Mr. Musk set the stage for a power struggle with Mr. Cook, who has immense influence over other tech companies through Apple’s dominance. Mr Musk now has a vested interest in Apple’s influence because he owns Twitter, which he bought for $44 billion last month and is used by iPhone owners around the world. In a tweet, Mr. Musk hinted that he was ready for a “war” with Apple.

A spokesman for Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple’s power over mobile apps begins with its App Store, a premier portal from which billions of iPhone users download Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, games, and all manner of other software programs. Apple charges developers a 30 percent fee for selling their software on the Store, which has turned apps into a multibillion-dollar business for the Silicon Valley company and made it an arbiter of software distribution.

But that power has prompted a backlash from app developers, and Apple is facing increasing pressure from regulators and politicians around the world over the App Store and its policies. Its app store is the target of an antitrust probe by the Justice Department. Last year, the Senate also presented Antitrust law to promote competition in the Apple and Google app stores.

With just a few changes, Apple can also influence mobile advertising. Last year, it made a number of technical changes to improve the privacy of people using mobile apps. These shifts made it difficult for many apps to target ads to users, angering tech executives like Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.

Apple also requires companies to create a “secure experience” in order for their apps to be listed in its App Store. In the past, Apple and Google have used their position as the essential link between app developers and consumers to push for content moderation. Following last year’s Jan. 6 riots in the US Capitol, Apple blocked the “free speech” social network Parler from appearing in its App Store until the service implemented guard rails to prevent calls for violence on the service.

“During my time at Twitter, app store officials have regularly raised concerns about the content available on our platform,” wrote Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and security, in a New York Times editorial this month. Mr Roth said App Store reviewers had raised concerns about pornography and racial slurs on Twitter.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/28/technology/elon-musk-apple-twitter.html Elon Musk takes power from Apple and prepares a conflict


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