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Elon Musk and Twitter may not be done taking it to Apple

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 12/9/2022 Emily Bary
© MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

Twitter owner Elon Musk suggested last week that he made nice with Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook over Twitter’s status in the App Store, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy with everything the smartphone giant does.

Musk could be eying a workaround to App Store payment policies, which allow Apple to take a cut of in-app purchases made in third-party apps on mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. The Information reported late Wednesday that Twitter was considering changing the price of its Twitter Blue service to $7 for those who buy it through the web but $11 for those who get it through an iOS app.

Twitter, which largely disbanded its press team in the wake of massive job cuts under Musk’s ownership, didn’t immediately respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on the possible pricing change.

See also: Elon Musk says Apple ‘misunderstanding’ resolved, thanks Tim Cook for campus tour

One of Musk’s first moves after taking over Twitter was to boost the price of Twitter Blue to $7.99 from $4.99 and bestow a “verified icon” upon the profiles of those who paid for the service, but Twitter paused the program after users showed the ease of impersonating official accounts.

Musk chafed at App Store payment policies in a Nov. 28 tweet, asking whether people knew that “Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?” In reality, the 30% cut applies to digital service revenue during the first year of a recurring subscription, and then Apple takes a 15% cut for all remaining years. Additionally, the tax is not exactly secret as Apple executives have discussed it publicly and other developers have lamented it as well.

If Apple were to take a cut of an $11 monthly subscription fee in the first year, Twitter would still pocket just under $8 in each instance. And the difference between the in-app and web-based prices would likely incentivize many Twitter users to sign up via the cheaper option.

Other prominent tech companies have sought to avoid putting money into Apple’s hands as well. Netflix Inc. notes on its website that users can’t sign up for the service through the mobile app on their iPhones or iPads, and they instead have to use a mobile browser. Spotify Technology SA shows a similar message on its site, which says that “due to Apple restrictions, you can’t subscribe to Premium through the app for iPhone and iPad.”

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