Oh to Be a Fly on the Wall During the Conversation Where Elon Musk Asks Tim Cook to Help X Corp Replace iOS as the Bedrock Everything Platform

Elon Musk, on Twitter/X:

If you can afford it, please subscribe to as many creators on this platform as you find interesting. People from every corner of the world post incredible content on X, but often live in tough circumstances, where even a few hundred dollars a month changes their life.

While we had previously said that X would keep nothing for the 12 months, then 10%, we are amending that policy to X keeps nothing forever, until payout exceeds $100k, then 10%. First 12 months is still free for all.

Apple does take 30%, but I will speak with @tim_cook and see if that can be adjusted to be just 30% of what X keeps in order to maximize what creators receive.

A couple of thoughts on this. First, it strikes me as exceedingly unlikely that Apple is going to carve out any sort of exception for X Corp. And even if Apple were to carve out an exception for Twitter creator subscriptions, it certainly wouldn’t be to only take 30 percent of what X Corp keeps from these subscriptions, especially given these — admittedly creator-friendly — terms.

Second, even if Apple were in the habit of carving out case-by-case exceptions to their in-app-purchase revenue split terms — and they’re not — why in the world would they grant such an exception to X Corp, when Musk’s oft-stated goal is to grow the platform into an “everything app” that encompasses chat, shopping, banking, entertainment, publishing, ride-hailing, and more? Gaming, of course, would be an area near and dear to Apple’s financial interests. As I wrote about this “everything app” pipe dream last October, the exemplars in Asia — WeChat in China, Line in Japan, etc. — are best thought of not as apps but as platforms, and we already have platforms that encompass everything: iOS and Android. This is why Apple (and Google) feel fully justified in taking their cuts of digital-goods transactions on their platforms — they’re the ones who built the platforms that enable this commerce. If Musk were to succeed in building X into an “everything app”, it would implicitly mean usurping the role iOS and Android play today as the everything platforms. Why would Apple help X Corp get started down that path by agreeing to let them conduct reduced-fee — let alone no-fee — transactions?

Third, it’s striking to me that Musk only mentions Apple and Tim Cook. Not a word about Android. One factor is that Google dropped the Play Store’s revenue split for content subscriptions to 85/15 two years ago. I think Apple should drop their entire App Store fee structure to a flat 85/15, for purchases and subscriptions alike, for everything other than gaming (which is both where the money is and where a 70/30 split remains commensurate with the rest of the industry). But still, Google is charging 15 percent on every Twitter/X creator subscription made using the Android app. I suspect they’re escaping Musk’s attention simply because people on Android spend so much less money than people on iOS.

Last, Musk doesn’t mention that these creator subscriptions can be made on X Corp’s website (twitter.com). Why not just pull the in-app subscriptions from X’s iPhone app and steer all purchases to the web? Probably because people are far less likely to subscribe over the web — which makes Apple’s case for them that they’re entitled to a hefty cut for having built a platform where people are so willing to buy and subscribe to things.