Only a day into the new week, Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, is attempting to organize his followers for another rebellion, this time against Apple. He claims that the company is tightening the screws on his platform, possibly pressing him to censor content more severely or risk being kicked out of the iOS ecosystem.
He’s targeting Google for essentially the same reasons. With billions of dollars in debt to creditors, the self-proclaimed free speech champion will need every dime he can earn from selling verification badges to users and putting eyes on the ad spots he’s now battling to sell. The fact that both have been embroiled in numerous scandals involving their share of app publisher money gives him even more clout.
But what if Twitter is kicked out of the App Store and Play Store’s fortresses? Instead of suing, he may offer mobile gear to customers directly. After all, original hardware provides several opportunities to boost business margins. Musk did suggest last week that he would be willing to do so.
I realize I drew a long conclusion from a fleeting comment that wasn’t really necessary. But, in the few times I’ve given it real thought, I haven’t been able to figure out how such a product might generate revenue on its own.
What would a Twitter phone look like then? In theory, and somewhat ironically, it could run Android. We already know that open-source Android can be forked to serve any purpose, so Google wouldn’t need to make money from licensing Google apps for pre-loads or the Play Store as its app store — Amazon’s Fire tablets run Android without any of Google’s services, and there are a few commercial-use products, such as point-of-sale systems, that have foundations in Google-free Android.
The Android development community is also extremely substantial and would be eager to fill such an urgent need. It goes without saying that someone would have to have an outstanding cause to differ from this evident option.
Despite his performance on Twitter, Musk has been able to exercise some level of managerial competence at his other properties like Tesla and SpaceX as long as we ignore some of the finer details, such as claims of unsafe labor practices during the COVID pandemic and from former employees about the prevalence of workplace sexual harassment (see The Washington Post and Rolling Stone).
Assume he is successful in organizing a team to design, build, and maintain an easy-to-use mobile Twitter terminal. Even if Musk is seeking to encourage free expression, is it in his best interests to let other microblogging services, such as the conservative-leaning Gab or Truth Social, onto a device designed by him? Perhaps if he demanded rent.
However, given that former President Donald Trump has not spoken on his erstwhile favorite social media platform since Musk reactivated his account earlier this month, he may be unwilling to strike even that kind of deal (via Reuters).
Unless Musk can cram a brilliant side app relating to Tesla, SpaceX, and/or any of his other enterprises, it makes logical to focus the phone on planning and communicating with Twitter.
Device owners receive Twitter Blue for free? Is there Model X bonus insurance? Are rocket launch events free to attend? It’s plausible — as Liz Wheeler puts it, “the man builds rockets to Mars, a dumb little smartphone should be trivial” — but any such amenity he’d consider putting in would cost him money to provide for his customers.
He merely needs to collect all of his 200 million or more daily active users to earn $200 for each unit sold. Boom! A $40 billion bank balance Why can’t he do it like Apple?
We previously addressed how the Freedom Phone (via ScreenRant) appears to have fallen short of its popular objectives, particularly in light of the criticism leveled at the hardware’s Chinese origins by some in its specialized ultra-right audience.
Furthermore, it has failed in execution, resulting in shipment delays for customers who paid hundreds of dollars on a low-end item. To top it all off, in January, the Freedom Phone’s developer tweeted from an iPhone to celebrate the arrival of volume inventories (via Daily Dot).
Musk has directed his engineers to remove originating device metadata from tweets, guaranteeing that the disastrous marketing blunder does not occur again. If the Twitter Phone ever becomes a reality, Musk will be able to hide the fact that he covertly transmits all of his tweets using an iPhone.
All of this is a long way of stating that many things can and have gone wrong for those who have tried. Musk’s huge blunders cannot be contained by the value propositions of consumers.
We’ve gone far enough down this perilous limb that I’m not going to bother with any GUI blueprints—just writing this up is exhausting enough. Elon Musk has admitted that he has spent nearly all of his waking hours since owning Twitter seeking to figure out how to govern this wayward “public square.”
According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the automaker’s market value has dropped from a year-to-date high of about $1.2 trillion in April to less than $970 billion in mid-September before hitting a low of $530 billion last week.
Although it has recovered somewhat since then, Musk is not in a position to fight Apple and Google over free speech unless he has the right high-level allies and employees who are either forced to believe in him or believe in him, so that he can mount a successful counteroffensive, let alone develop a Twitter Phone.
But What Do I Truly Know About Money?