Twitter’s oft-delayed paid verification service is reportedly delayed again, this time due to Elon Musk’s ongoing negotiations with Apple and the Cupertino giant’s handling of in-app purchases.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk said Twitter Blue would be restored this Friday, but the social media company is now delaying the launch as it tries to avoid paying a 30% cut in subscription revenue, according to Platformer, a newsletter from tech journalists Casey Newton and Zoe. Schiffer.
Twitter’s offer to withhold Apple’s fee for iOS app store purchases coincides with Musk’s attack on the iPhone maker, which he launched in a series of tweets this week. On Monday, Musk claimed that Apple had pulled most of its ads from Twitter and threatened to kick the social network out of the iOS app store.
When Twitter Blue finally launches, it’s expected to look different than what Musk originally proposed. The service asks users to verify their phone number and costs $8, which is a penny more than the previous price of $7.99, Platformer said.
Neither Twitter nor Apple immediately responded to a request for comment. Twitter is said to no longer have a communications department. Apple has not publicly acknowledged Musk’s claims.
Musk has complained about the 30% fee as part of his escalating dispute with Apple. “Did you know that Apple imposes a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through the App Store?” Musk wrote on Twitter on Monday.
In the tech world, the fee is hardly a secret. In fact, in an effort to avoid cutting into Apple’s subscription revenue, Musk and Twitter are embroiled in a protracted battle between smartphone app store operators like Apple and Google and software developers, including big names like Meta and Spotify.
Apple and Google restrict any in-app purchases users make through smartphone app stores, including subscriptions to services such as Twitter Blue. The commission can be as high as 30%, although both Apple and Google have reduced the fee for smaller developers in recent years.
In 2020, Epic Games, the developers of the Fortnite video game, sued Apple, claiming that the 30% cut—and the iPhone maker’s rules to ensure developers pay it—were anti-competitive.
In 2021, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple must allow developers to link to payment systems outside of the iOS app store, which would have avoided the 30% cut, but stopped short of declaring Apple a monopoly. Epic Games appealed the ruling.
Twitter could try to send its users to paid services outside of the iOS app store, a tactic that could keep the 30% revenue cut in Twitter’s pocket rather than Apple’s.
Twitter Blue’s latest delay is the latest setback for the service, which has been pushed back several times since its disastrous launch.
Musk initially introduced the paid verification service on November 6. Immediately, some Twitter Blue subscribers impersonated the official accounts of companies such as Eli Lilly, Lockheed Martin, and Nintendo, sharing jokes and false information. Twitter quickly suspended the service.
Musk did not make it clear when the service would return. Twitter’s CEO first tweeted that the service would return on November 29, but has since said that Twitter Blue has been “indefinitely delayed,” after which it will launch on December 2.