Elon Musk could totally build a mobile platform alternative.
Elon Musk, I hope you don’t threaten us with a good time.
The Tesla CEO Musk said that if it came down to it, he would totally be able to create an alternative mobile platform. Elon, I would like to say that you should not threaten us with a good time.
Musk responded to a Twitter message the following evening encouraging him to build his own phone. This is in the event that Google and Apple decide to remove the Twitter app from their respective app stores.
The new owner of the bird app replied, “I certainly hope it does not come to that, but if there is no other alternative, yes, I will obtain an alternative phone.” In response to that tweet, fans expressed their support, but people in the tech media also expressed their derision.
What makes Musk need an Android or iPhone alternative?
Earlier in the week, Musk made a comment expressing concern that Apple and potentially Google might decide to kick Twitter off the App Store and Google Play Store in the near future. I’m not sure there is much to support this speculation – the main reason for it was Phil Schiller’s decision to deactivate his personal Twitter account, which was linked to his work as head of Apple’s marketing and App Store division.
There is no indication as to why Schiller deactivated his Twitter account. However, it might have had something to do with the firestorm of controversy that has engulfed the service since Musk took over the helm a few months ago. There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding Musk and his company this year, from the chaotic layoffs that occurred to the botched rollout of the blue-check-for-money program, to the decision to reinstate Donald Trump and numerous other suspended accounts, and of course, Musk’s own tweets which can only be described as conspiracy theory ridden.
It is pertinent to note that Phil Schiller’s decision might be a matter of personal choice. Most likely, it’s a signal to Musk, who’s in the process of trying to turn Twitter into a subscription service, and chances are this is part of the process. It’s important. As they say, follow the money; in this case, it was transferred from Twitter’s bank account into Apple’s bank account.
There is no question that when you go to war, it would be wise not to rely on your enemy.
Under the terms of the App Store, Apple could demand a 15% to 30% cut of in-app purchase transactions on the Twitter app. In other words, that $ 8/month Musk has been demanding in exchange for a blue check? A couple of bucks could be given to Apple. We say “could” because we don’t know if that’s actually the case. Apple has been inconsistent in applying its own rules when it comes to IAPs. It’s the same story with Google.
Must Read: Musk warns Twitter could face bankruptcy
In a tweet a few weeks ago, Musk made it clear that he was not satisfied with the status quo. A massive Apple (or Google) tax would not be feasible for Twitter, as it faces a massive debt load and a significant exodus of advertisers.
It is also pertinent to note that there is a problem with content and reputation. Both Apple and Google have rejected apps that previously contained hate speech or extremism. There are several well-known examples, including Parler and Gab. As a result of Musk’s leadership, Twitter has seen a surge in speech that might be considered offensive by Apple or Google. Though it is a stretch to claim that Twitter is in danger of being kicked out of the app stores, even implying the possibility could negatively influence the company’s reputation.
The reasons for Elon Musk’s Twitter war with Apple and Google can be summarized as money and perception. Generally, it is better not to depend on your enemy when you are at war. Therefore, this discussion about the development of an alternative phone has arisen.
Will Musk make his own phone?
Yes, of course! There is actually nothing complicated about that at all. Making a brand-new smartphone is not an extremely difficult task. All it takes is a bit of creativity. If you are looking to build your own phone, many companies out there will build it for you for a fee. In fact, the design and software features of a relatively small startup like Nothing can be more interesting than you might think. Even with the burden of running three major companies, Musk could pull this off with relative ease, even with managing three major companies.
That’s an empty threat, right?
Phones and operating systems are not the problem. The platform is the problem: operating system, app store, and ecosystem. Microsoft, Huawei, Samsung, and Amazon will attest to this fact. There have been numerous attempts by these large and powerful companies to build alternatives to the Google-Apple platform, but all have failed. Despite investing tens of billions of dollars, hiring the brightest people, and hiring the most experienced consultants, they eventually gave up or failed.
The challenge of developing a brand-new smartphone platform in 2022 is, in many ways, a chicken-and-egg scenario. The success of a brand-new platform depends on the availability of apps. A successful platform is necessary in order to encourage developers to develop those applications. As Huawei did when it was prohibited from accessing the Play Store, you can throw money at the problem. However, there is a slim chance of making any progress.
The situation becomes even more complicated if your chief rival boasts an app that most users consider to be a must-have. Is there a reason for Google to assist in the development of an alternative to the Android/Play Store platform? It is difficult to understand why the company would develop apps for a platform that will either crash and burn or grow into a dangerous competitor.
To achieve the desired outcome, Musk would need to create a brand-new phone (easy!), an operating system (also easy, just fork Android), an app store (a bit more challenging), and compelling alternatives to the apps and services offered by Google (very challenging).
It would also require Musk to replicate everything Google does with Android, the Play Store, and its app suite and to do so in a short period of time (months, not years). Those are just a few of the things we have planned.
There is a significant difference between building a successful third-party platform and building a Tesla.
Clearly, Musk has disrupted established and entrenched industries in the past. Nevertheless, Tesla and SpaceX disrupted their industries through technical innovation rather than the development of platform-based products. Moreover, Musk has a poor track record of managing large platforms. Twitter is an excellent example.
The process of developing a third-party mobile platform is not similar to that of designing a Tesla. The process is similar to establishing The Boring Company (remember that one?). The Boring Company is not concerned with developing a smartphone or even an app store, just as it is not concerned with digging tunnels. The task is to build a large and complex network from scratch. We must work with thousands of stakeholders, compete against established infrastructures, and convince regular people to use the network. In light of this, it is understandable that the most notable achievement of The Boring Company has been the boring tunnel the company has constructed beneath Las Vegas.
Musk has demonstrated that he won’t let others decide what he should or not do for him. It is possible that Elon will introduce a phone in the near future. There is a possibility that it may even be a positive one. There will, however, be no real alternative to Android or Apple’s iOS.