Does Facebook Have an iTunes Killer Up Its Sleeve? Of Course Not



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, 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?

  • Ed Schmenkman

    “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.” 

    Huh? Share clips of music? Am I unaware of some Facebook feature used to share music other than posting videos from YouTube? I’ve never shared a clip of music or had a friend share one on FB.  Is the writer thinking of MySpace?

  • minimalist1969

    Having to leave Facebook,  find music on YouTube and attach it to your
    feed to share is hardly the same thing as a built in streaming service that offersd radio stations, playlist sharing and just about every song you can possibly imagine.   The
    barriers to entry with the second scenario are dramatically reduced.   And
    the biggest barrier to entry: cost? 
    Spotify is free. 

    Its likely only hardcore music geeks are going to subscribe to streaming services
    so iTunes sales may still continue to dominate as far as numbers go. 
    But never underestimate the power of free and in your face to disrupt an
    entrenched business model.    If anything has a chance of chipping away at
    iTunes its free music streaming built into Facebook. 

  • ChuckO

    I agree. I use Rdio for listening to stuff I don’t want to buy and for music discovery. But I BUY from iTunes.

  • TheEndre

    In Norway, where I live, Spotify has been around for a couple of years, and it is already way more popular than iTunes. I’ve met several users who do not want to buy an iPhone or iPad because they think you have to use iTunes for listening to music, which they want to avoid like the plague.

    I’m an old school music collector, and I’ve spent a lot of time (but only a little bit of money) on my iTunes collection. But there is a new generation coming who are totally not interested in owning any songs (files). They just want to listen to whatever they want, when and wherever they want, without any syncing or buying tracks or other hassles.

    A combo Facebook-Spotify kind of service will be even more killer. No doubt.

  • djgrahamj

    The pic above led me to believe this was about how much Zuckerberg’s keynote is like one of Jobs’… he’s obviously been studying his work. He even used BOOM!

  • Lonny Dunn

    Once again, predictions, speculation and hypothesis are little better than opinions.  Everbody seems to have one.  And they are worth every nickle we pay for them.

    No, Facebook didn’t announce it’s own music sharing app.  It announced business partnerships with about 6 music sharing Corporations and as many Movie deals, not to mention alliances with news services like WSJ and Yahoo!

    No longer will music be a one dimensional experience, but you can listen to what I listen to, even though you may be in Osaka, Japan, and I in Washington, DC, making the world a bit smaller, and both of us commenting on the wonderful new tune experienced by both of us.  Simultaneous life experiences enjoyed over a Social Network ~ some would say the very essence of social media.

    I think it’s best when passionate about Apple or any company for that matter, to wait for the actual news before writing the news.

    Lonny Dunn Editor/Author  Tweets at @ProNetworkBuild