Mark Gurman expects Apple and Google to cut Twitter some slack

"App store fees are obviously too high due to the iOS/Android duopoly.” -- Twitter CEO  Elon Musk

From Gurman's Power On column, mailed Sunday to Bloomberg Technology ($) subscribers:

Assuming Twitter Inc. can weather its chaotic start under Elon Musk, the platform is poised to become more of a subscription business—with far leaner operations and less moderation. But that sets the stage for yet another challenge: a possible standoff with Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google over fees and content...

So there are two potential scenarios in which the app stores block Twitter: if it tries to circumvent in-app purchases and if it doesn’t police its content to the satisfaction of Apple and Google. That means the road to Musk creating a successful subscription service runs right through those two tech giants.

Still, I expect Apple and Google to give Twitter an unusual amount of leeway. Twitter’s brand and importance remain strong, and alienating hundreds of millions of users—who are glued to their devices because of the app—would be a losing situation. As would upsetting Musk, who operates two other influential companies, Tesla Inc. and SpaceX. That makes it in everyone’s interest to avoid an all-out digital war.

My take: We'll see. If battle lines get crossed, even the richest man in the world might have trouble funding a war with Apple and Google.

27 Comments

  1. David Emery said:
    Apple should NOT give Twitter any slack, for both moral and business reasons.

    “Bleep Musk and the bird he rode in on!”

    6
    November 20, 2022
  2. Daniel Epstein said:
    The problem with Twitter and reaching profitability is not the cost of potential App Store fees. Elon Musk seems to be flailing on this illadvised purchase and business venture. Maybe he will salvage something from his 44 Billion dollar acquisition. My guess is he will give up after a struggle and end up selling it for about 25 cents on the dollar.

    5
    November 20, 2022
    • Fred Stein said:
      I upvoted. My outlook for Twitter is far less optimistic. Each day Musk creates new liabilities.

      0
      November 21, 2022
  3. David Drinkwater said:
    As I have written elsewhere (orthography repaired):

    I like Musk for Tesla, but since he has tanked the stock, I’m not so happy with him.

    2
    November 20, 2022
  4. John Konopka said:
    I don’t get his game plan, if there is one. He could have courted advertisers, tried to make the platform better and maybe made some money. Instead he’s driving advertisers away and courting conspiracy theorists. Some of us were talking about this the other day speculating that maybe he is angling for bankruptcy. Maybe he gets some legal protections from that and then he can use the losses to shield profits from his other companies. He could sell a boatload of Tesla without paying taxes, maybe.

    If he doesn’t like the app stores he could develop a really nice web interface and push people to that.

    1
    November 20, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Assuming a combined State/Federal tax rate of 25%, a $44 Billion loss will only recover $11 Billion in taxes owed.

      Nah, there’s only two explanations for Musk’s conduct: A/ he’s gone bonkers, or B/ he does have a plan for Twitter that requires dismantling it before he rebuilds it. Sort of like Army boot camp.

      We just don’t know what his plan (assuming he has one) is.

      2
      November 20, 2022
      • David Emery said:
        If he’s planning on ‘dismantling Twitter’, where exactly does he think the core value would be? Existing IP (Twitter’s codebase, user accounts?) Developer & Marketing teams (if there’s any of that left by the end of the year)? Goodwill and the value of the ‘Twitter brand’?

        This is looking increasingly like a business case of How Not To Do It. At least he hasn’t climbed on a stage, thrown a chair, and yelled “advertisers, advertisers, advertisers!” 🙂

        3
        November 20, 2022
        • Gregg Thurman said:
          I, for one, do not think Musk is bonkers. I do think he does stuff impulsively, then works himself and his staff to death fixing it.

          1
          November 20, 2022
  5. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    I read that Mark Gurman also posted this on Twitter :
    “ Notably, we appear to now know how Apple’s App Store chief feels about the new Twitter. “

    with a screen shot reading
    “ @pschiller
    This account doesn’t exist
    Try searching for another “

    5
    November 20, 2022
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    If Apple were to use the chaos at Twitter to start its own version (incorporating Twitter like features with Facebook like features), and only open to iOS users, would that alarm the regulators?

    Bloggers would be curated according to Apple standards, but would have access to the most desired online demographic. How would advertisers feel about that?

    2
    November 20, 2022
  7. Lalit Jagtap said:
    My gut feeling is Mr Musk thrives by creating a Chaos, and navigating it through. Let us hope he does not cause more loss of talent at Tesla or Space X etc. while he is interviewing CEO candidate for Twitter.

    0
    November 20, 2022
  8. Bart Yee said:
    I don’t think there’s any legal, business or moral reason to cut Twitter any “slack” regarding App Store rules or subscription payment commissions if purchased through the iOS App Store or Play Store. The Twitter app is no different or special compared to any other App, therefore no special treatment. It is not Apple’s concern if Twitter is is having a business breakdown. It is Apple’s concern if content or lack of moderation breaches App Store rules.

    I agree that Twitter could use a web interface or emails to garner subscriptions.

    Regardless of what Musk wants to believe, Apple created and maintains the entire iOS mobile platform, App Store, and is legally entitled to its rules and commissions. Apple doesn’t take any bit of Twitter’s advertising or revenue sources. If Twitter wants to use the Twitter iOS App to get subscriptions, then factor in Apple commission and count it a cost of doing business. Or create Twitter phones.

    4
    November 20, 2022
    • Robert Stack said:
      Spot on Bart – Upvoted!

      2
      November 20, 2022
  9. Bart Yee said:
    As for an Apple social media platform, I just don’t think that’s in the cards. It would be a huge distraction, it’s not easy to address a revenue stream via advertising or subscriptions, and relatively costly to moderate and maintain. It would literally have to be a separate company or division, could become
    Political by its nature, and, really, Apple doesn’t need it. Hard Pass.

    3
    November 20, 2022
  10. Bart Yee said:
    Meanwhile, Bob Iger returns to Disney as CEO for two years as Bob Chapek is ousted after less than two years at the position. Apparently poor earnings and continued streaming losses were his downfall.

    1
    November 21, 2022

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