Apple and Facebook: A place for friends?

By Jonny Evans

Social networks are buzzing with news of Apple [AAPL]  and its upcoming revelations at WWDC next week, well, most social networks are buzzing -- except one. And that's Ping, the network that belongs to Apple.


[ABOVE: Apple already includes Twitter support within iOS.]

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Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said of Facebook: "We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them. Just stay tuned on this one."

Apple already boasts Twitter support built inside its mobile OS. This seems set to extend to Facebook at WWDC next week, and has sparked speculation of a takeover attempt.

Any form of alliance between Apple, Facebook and Twitter is a powerful force in social media technology. Add Apple's own mobile and PC operating systems and its range of mobile devices, Siri and new mapping features to the mix, and Google must be feeling the pressure.

Google fears how an angry Apple could be changing the face of the technology landscape with shrewd alliances with the search giant's competitors and transformative moves across the tech industry supply chain.

Does Google fear the Facebook reaper?

Does Google really fear this?

Of course it does.

Why else does it plan to reveal a 3D future for Google Maps later this week at a pre-WWDC event? The attempt to undermine Apple's announcement may even take a little of the luster from Apple's new mapping tools.

However, with its own Google+ service to labor over, Google can't make a direct alliance with Twitter or with Facebook. The Google garden may be presented as somewhere that's open, but Google always ends up owning the plantation.

Thoughts of even tighter integration between Apple and Facebook seem logical. Didn't Apple CEO Steve Jobs speak of his respect for Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg? Could there be even more smoke behind this fire as Apple seeks to extend its executive team and bring in some social media expertise?

Social butterflies

Social media is full of charlatans promising great things to clients looking to embrace the zeitgeist. Apple's adventures in this have been of limited success. Ping, is utterly flawed. Billed as a social network for music it has acquired zero traction.

(I've said before the biggest problem with Ping is the complete lack of any real opportunity for self-expression via the service. You need personality to make a social feed interesting. It's boring to visit and boring to use).

What would make it more interesting? Why reinvent the wheel when it could become a Facebook app?

What about this Facebook takeover talk: Facebook shares are wobbling at the moment, making it possible for Apple to drop a good deal to take some ownership of the company. It is possible too that the timing of the Facebook IPO -- one month before WWDC -- opens up doors for all kinds of changes in the relationship between the two firms.

We build futures here

There's lots of people suggesting Apple could buy Facebook. Other than the acquisition of the world's leading social network, what else might Apple want out the deal?

  • Could it already be lining up a deep pool of executive talent for the next wave of innovation from Cupertino?
  • Could Cook's succession plans already involve bringing in another potential future company chief with a depth of experience in the connected age?
  • Could Apple's future include Mark Zuckerberg?

I've a feeling Facebook may be the place Apple has its friends. And, if I were Google, I'd once again be regretting how poorly it managed its relationship with Apple's Steve Jobs when it chose to stop emulating BlackBerry in Android, and moved to emulate the iPhone.

That black mark seems set to stain Google's future. Think about it, business is all about relationships, and it's a shame to sacrifice any relationship for a short term gain. It's simply an exercise in good manners and respect.

It will be interesting to see what Apple announces concerning Facebook next week. I'm expecting integration within the iOS, but I'm wondering if the integration could also see some activity within the make-up of the Apple leadership team.

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