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For Elon Musk, this new quarrel with Apple is fodder for the platform. | Photo Credit: Reuters

(This article is part of Today’s Cache, The Hindu’s newsletter on emerging themes at the intersection of technology, innovation and policy. To get it in your inbox, subscribe here.)

November has been a tough month for the world’s richest man. Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, he has been tinkering with the platform. It all started with the layoffs. Like the character Thanos in the movie Avengers, Musk decided to fire half the staff.

Job cuts were anyway on the cards, but the manner in which Musk let go Twitter workers made the business decision look discourteous. Following the retrenchment, several employees voluntarily quit the company, making Musk go back to those he laid off.

The exodus is not limited to talent, as even advertisers were leaving the platform. A group of automotive manufacturers decided to stop promotions on the platform. Leading advertising firms said they were taking a pause to make sense of what is happening to the platform.

But to keep the platform active, Musk reinstated former U.S. President Donald Trump’s account, and has also floated a new poll asking his million plus followers whether other banned accounts must be brought back.

And while all this was playing out, Musk is also tinkering with the subscription model with a paid blue verification tick mark. The initial launch did not go as per the billionaire’s plan. So, the service was set to be relaunched on November 29th. In a tweet, Musk said he would be “punting” the relaunch to the new date “to make sure that it is rock solid.”

Looks like Apple’s 30% app tax came in the way as Musk will have to pay Tim Cook a third of what he makes from selling blue tick marks to users on the Twitter iOS app. No wonder the Tesla boss has now become the new hero for criticising Apple’s App Store in-app purchase policy. Musk called it the “hidden 30% tax on the Internet.”

On Monday, he claimed that the iPhone maker has “mostly” stopped advertising on Twitter and that it has “threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.” According to some reports, Apple is one of Twitter’s biggest advertisers, and it has kept mum so far. The tech giant has not publicly acknowledged Musk’s claims.

But for Musk, this new quarrel with Apple is fodder for the platform.



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