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‘I’m glad Elon is in the combat’: Tech CEOs battling Apple’s 30% App Store fee get unexpected ammo from Musk

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Elon Musk has fueled a chronic combat between Apple and app builders over App Store charges.
  • Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney and Spotify boss Daniel Ek supported Musk’s criticism of Apple.
  • One CEO who predicted hassle when Musk purchased Twitter stated the billionaire would draw consideration to a distinct segment subject.

Elon Musk has barreled right into a long-running dispute between Apple and a few of its greatest builders.

Twitter’s new proprietor declared war on Monday on one of the most powerful companies in tech, alleging that it dedicated three offenses: halting advert spend on Twitter; apparently threatening to “withhold Twitter from the App Store”; and for charging a 30% fee on content material gross sales made by means of the App Store. 

The latter has delighted builders and tech CEOs who depend on the App Store for its large attain. Apple controls app distribution for the iPhone and iPad, and takes as much as a 30% reduce of some digital purchases made by way of iOS apps above a sure dimension — assume in-game buys. It largely mandates that builders use its native in-app fee system, typically that means a major income haircut, though it has barely softened that requirement for sure apps like Netflix and Spotify.


While many builders are resentful of the charges, few are prepared to talk up and jeopardize entry to an enormous person base.

For the exceptions, Musk is a welcome ally.

Tim Sweeney, CEO of “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, on Monday appeared to again Musk, saying in a tweet that the iPhone maker was “a menace to freedom worldwide.”


Epic Games launched its personal fee mechanism to keep away from Apple’s charges, was booted from the App Store, and sued Apple on antitrust grounds in 2020. A decide in the case issued a ruling in 2021. Apple known as the ruling a “resounding victory” however nonetheless appealed a part of the verdict. Epic additionally appealed.

“They maintain an illegal monopoly on app distribution, they use it to control American discourse, and they’re endangering protesters in China by storing sensitive customer data in a state-owned data center,” Sweeney continued, linking to a Daily Mail article.

In a separate tweet, Sweeney famous that Apple had blocked “Fortnite” from the App Store.

“Would they nuke Twitter? Spotify? Facebook? Netflix? At what point does the whole rotten structure collapse?” he stated.

Epic did not instantly reply to Insider’s request for remark.

Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, additionally quietly supported Musk. The Swedish entrepreneur retweeted Musk’s tweets criticizing Apple however made no additional remark. 

Spotify filed a criticism to Europe’s antitrust regulators in 2019 over Apple’s levy, however the EU has but to subject a remaining resolution. The streaming app stays out there by means of the App Store.

Daniel Ek Musk retweet
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek retweeted Elon Musk’s criticisms of Apple.

One entrepreneur predicted shortly after Musk’s takeover of Twitter that Musk would come into battle with Apple.

“I look forward to when @elonmusk realizes Apple’s egregious 30% App Store tax is going to try and take $2.40 of every $8 Twitter Blue subscription and joins in the fight to open the App Stores,” Christian Owens tweeted on November 3.

Owens is the CEO and founding father of the billing startup Paddle. In October 2021, Paddle became one of the first companies to target Apple’s native in-app funds (IAP) system — and its fee — with a brand new providing known as Paddle IAP. The fee mechanism is nonetheless being examined with builders, and its rollout relies on the final result of Apple’s ongoing regulatory and authorized fights.

“I wasn’t necessarily surprised, given the only way to pay for Twitter Blue is in-app purchase on iOS,” Owens advised Insider. “It points to how egregious the 30% fee is. I’m glad Elon is in the fight. The best thing that can happen is that it brings broad awareness to consumers.”

Musk could not show a dependable ally.

For instance, Apple fees some builders 15% reasonably than the full 30% in their first yr. And ought to Apple and Twitter resolve its present dispute, Musk could again off. He has already deleted one belligerent tweet displaying a freeway signal and two choices: “Pay 30%” or “go to war,” with a automotive careening down the “go to war” path. 

Elon Musk Tim Cook meme
Elon Musk tweeted, then deleted, this meme on Monday.

“This is one of those scenarios where I think, love him or hate him — and he is a divisive character — he tends to have a knack to get things done, whether it’s increasing public discourse about something or making something happen,” stated Owens, pointing to Musk’s industrial area agency SpaceX breaking through defense monopolies

“It’s about bridging the right balance,” he added. “Apple has created a great ecosystem in terms of the iPhone, but now abuses its position as leader of that ecosystem now it’s so big. We’re just looking for a sustainable way forward.”

Insider has approached Apple for remark.

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