Elon Musk Slams Apple’s App Store Fees as ‘De Facto Global Tax’

Tech billionaire Elon Musk took a swing at Apple, siding with “Fortnite” maker Epic Games in its fight against the tech giant’s App Store policies that take a standard 30% cut of payment transactions.

“Apple app store fees are a de facto global tax on the Internet. Epic is right,” Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, wrote on Twitter.

Shortly after Musk posted the tweet, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney — a longtime critic of Apple’s App Store — weighed in with a new warning that the 30% “Apple Tax” is “far more pernicious than many realize.”

“‘It only applies to digital goods accessible on iOS’, they say — but in the future all physical goods will have a digital presence, and Apple will tax and gatekeep world commerce,” Sweeney tweeted Friday. “Apple must be stopped.”

Reps for Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Last summer Epic sued Apple over the 30% commission on in-app purchases and its policy that bars developers from using outside payment methods. Apple kicked “Fortnite” off the App Store after Epic tried to offer a 20% discount to in-game currency for customers using direct payment. After hearing testimony this spring, a judge is expected to issue a ruling in the case as soon as next month. (Epic also has sued Google over the same issue, as it applies to the Google Play store, a case that remains pending; “Fortnite” also has been booted from Google Play.)

Meanwhile, a new book, “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century” by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins, claims that Apple CEO Tim Cook had floated the possibility that Apple acquire Tesla. According to the book, in a call with Cook, Musk demanded that he become the CEO of Apple if it bought Tesla — to which Cook supposedly responded, “Fuck you” and hung up.

On Friday, Musk said such a conversation never took place. “Cook & I have never spoken or written to each other ever,” he tweeted. “There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla. There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet.” Musk added, “Tesla was worth about 6% of today’s value.”

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