Facebook’s f8 conference got under way today, and speculation has begun that suggests the social networking behemoth is going to announce its very own music service, which Jonny Evans at Computerworld believes “may give iTunes hegemony its biggest shake yet.” But I’m inclined to disagree.
It is believed that Facebook “has a plan” to launch a socially-enabled music service, similar to Apple’s Ping, that will allow users to share what they are listening to through a news ticker. Their friends can then listen to the same songs at the same time.
Zuckerberg’s company has apparently been working on the service for some time, building relationships with the film and music industries, with partners Spotify, Turntable.fm and Clear Channel are all set to join Facebook at the f8 conference. Facebook’s creative director, Ji Lee, has also tweeted about a ‘Listen With Your Friends’ feature.
Evans suggests that Facebook’s partnerships, and its 750 million users, will create a music service that will become a problem for Apple’s iTunes:
“None of this sounding like an iTunes threat? Many already use Facebook to share clips of songs they enjoy, to make conversation about music and musicians, to let each other or their fans know about new musical events.”
“In future, once Facebook has some of its 750 million users hooked on using these new tools and its third-party partners, then the stage will truly be set for it to offer even more enhanced music services.
“This will be a future problem for Apple, which is preparing to unwrap its own hybrid music streaming service in iTunes Match; and which has nothing to offer in the social space other than its ridiculously low-featured Ping and the still unseen iCloud.”
“In my opinion, Facebook’s partnerships may have a strong chance of reducing that compulsion to use iTunes servces, thus lessening the strength of that the locked-in relationship of iDevice users and their media.”
In my opinion, no social network, no matter how many fancy features it introduces, is going to “lessen the strength of that locked-in relationship of iDevice users and their media.” While Facebook may be about to offer a whole new, socially-focused music streaming service, it’s never going to compete with those features that regular iTunes users continue to return for.
Managing your iOS devices; purchasing music, TV shows, movies, apps and audiobooks; managing your playlists; and more, are features that social networks just can’t provide — regardless of how powerful they may be. Apple’s tight-knit and wonderfully successful ecosystem means that it will never lose out to third-party software and services.
This is the same reason why services Spotify won’t lure a substantial number of users away from iTunes. Sure, Spotify may be better for listening to music — and that’s what I use it for — but when I want to purchase content and sync my devices, I always load up iTunes. And I’ll be the first to admit that iTunes is far from perfect. It seems as though the software is never free from bugs, and it can be a major resource hog, but for an iOS user, there’s nothing better out there.
Facebook’s upcoming music service may mean that Ping suffers an early death, but its impact on iTunes will be minimal.
What do you think? Can you really see Facebook making a dent in iTunes?