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I Call Bullshit on Apple Being Interested in Acquiring TikTok

Dan Primack, on Twitter:

As we report in Axios Pro Rata today, Apple has expressed serious interest in buying TikTok.

That’s not what Primack reported! Primack reported that sources outside Apple claim Apple expressed interest in TikTok, not that Apple actually has expressed interest. The claim that Apple actually has expressed interest exists only in this tweet. The difference is significant if the sources in question were full of shit, which I think they were.

From Axios’s Pro Rata newsletter, which has already been walked back with a pretty clear statement from Apple:

That’s because Microsoft isn’t the only party kicking TikTok’s tires, as Trump also said yesterday.

Multiple sources tell me that Apple has expressed interest, albeit no sources inside of Apple, and that at least one other strategic has expressed interest. Yes, it would be an unusual deal for Apple, given that TikTok is a cross-platform app, and a bigger political headache than Tim Cook may want (both here and in China). But if anyone has the cash on hand…

[Update: An Apple spokesperson tells Axios that there are no discussions about buying TikTok and the company isn’t interested].

Here’s an Axios article published an hour ago with the same content as the newsletter, but with Apple’s blanket denial simply standing next to Primack’s unnamed sources (multiple!) claiming that they are. Either Primack’s sources lied to him and he ran it, or Apple is lying. There’s no middle ground.

“Albeit” is doing a lot of work in the phrase “albeit no sources inside of Apple”. Who would know outside of Apple? TikTok, presumably, and … the Trump administration? Primack couldn’t possibly have taken the word of anyone in the Trump administration at face value, right? So my best guess is that TikTok sources are making this up to drive the asking price higher.

It is extremely conspicuous that Apple flatly denied any interest. They will no-comment almost anything.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020