Twitter CEO Elon Musk was planning to bring back Twitter Blue this week, but then he got frustrated with Apple, and now nobody knows when the subscription service will relaunch. But it seems Musk has decided that when Twitter Blue—initially exclusively offered to iPhone and iPad users—comes back, the service will likely not be available for purchase in the Apple App Store.
According to a Platformer report, a Twitter product manager shared an internal message saying that Twitter Blue is being further delayed to “make some tweaks.” The biggest tweak seems to be requiring phone number authentication for Twitter Blue subscribers, while the smallest tweak is raising the price from $7.99 to $8. Forbes reported that this version of Twitter Blue was intended to be available this Friday, but Musk’s push to quickly get as many paid subscriptions as possible shifted when Apple suspended advertising on Twitter and, according to Musk, threatened to drop the app from its store.
If Musk’s feud with Apple continues heating up, it could mean that the No. 1 smartphone, which more than half of Americans use, would only be able to access Twitter through a web browser.
Soon after Musk got the news from Apple, he began looking into what it costs him to offer Twitter Blue as an in-app purchase in Apple’s App Store. That seems to be the first moment he realized that Apple takes a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases during the first year of service. (After the first year, Apple’s cut goes down to 15 percent.)
Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
NBC News noted that Musk has been an Apple critic for years. Apple has largely ignored Musk, as it is doing now.
Twitter reportedly has no communications office, and Apple did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Because Apple is not commenting, it’s hard to confirm if the company suspended advertising, but it’s not hard to see why Musk would be threatened if it did. The Washington Post reported that 4 percent of Twitter’s advertising revenue came from Apple in the first quarter of 2022, with Apple investing $48 million into the platform.
Musk’s paid verification plan was intended to reduce the reliance on advertisers to generate Twitter revenue. But now Musk seemingly isn’t sure where or how he should plan to sell the subscription to maximize profits. Although Apple is the bee in Musk’s bonnet right now, the Google Play app store also takes a 30 percent cut from the most profitable apps and any in-app products sold.