Why Apple Needs a Real Social Network



In a single week, Facebook has become not just a competitor to Apple, but the Mother of All Apple Competitors.

Facebook this week announced a series of initiatives and partnerships that the New York Times says makes Facebook a “primary entertainment hub.”

Facebook’s 800 million users will be able to play and share music from Spotify, MOG, Rdio, Rhapsody, Turntable.fm, VEVO, Slacker, Songza, TuneIn, iheartradio, Deezer, Earbits, Jelli, mixcloud and other services, right from their profiles and News Feeds.

Facebook will enable the discovery, sharing, buying and renting of movies and TV shows via Netflix, Hulu, Blockbuster, IMDB, Dailymotion and Flixter.

And just as the iPad is gaining traction as the electronic newspaper of choice, Facebook announces partnerships with the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Slate, the Associated Press, Reuters, Yahoo News and others to make Facebook the default online newspaper site.

Facebook is now more directly threatening to Apple’s business model than Microsoft, Google and Sony combined. 

It’s Apple vs. Facebook for the Future of Media

Apple isn’t so much a consumer electronics company as it is a media platform. Apple’s success in the last 10 years has all been about changing how people create and consume media and content.

In the past decade, Apple has succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination with iPod, iTunes, iPhone, the App Store, the Apple Store and the iPad. And although Apple TV hasn’t succeeded on the same level as other runaway hits, it’s still pretty cool.

The theme with all these success stories is that they’re all part of a unified strategy for Apple to fix what’s broken with the experience of consuming media and content.

This unified strategy represents a model or a paradigm for how we enjoy electronically deliverable culture: We discover, buy and enjoy music, movies, TV shows, books, audio books, magazines, newspapers on iTunes, then play or view them on any Apple gadget we like. Halfway through a movie on the iPad, and I can zap it over to the TV for the second half. It’s elegant, integrated and fun.

Now Facebook has moved aggressively into Apple territory with a competing model or paradigm for all this. The Facebook model is that we discover content not by browsing iTunes, but by monitoring our New Feed for what our friends and family are enjoying.

When we see a friend is listening to a song, we’ll be able to tune and listen with them. We’ll allow our friends to influence purchases and rentals for TV, movies and all kinds of content.

The Facebook initiative has critics, including Yours Truly. But Facebook can’t be dismissed as a threat to Apple. The new Facebook leverages that social network’s massive reach (which CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims attracts a half-billion users a day) to attract attention to iTunes alternatives.

Either Facebook will succeed as a “primary entertainment hub,” or it will fail. If it fails, then Apple has nothing to worry about. But if Facebook succeeds, it threatens Apple’s entire business, and the future of Apple’s stellar growth.

More to the point, if Facebook succeeds, the social media paradigm succeeds. And if social discovery of media is the future, then Apple needs to be there.

Don’t even get me started about the “P” word. The trouble with iTunes Ping is that it’s a social network about music. That’s not a paradigm with a future.

What Apple’s Social Network Would Look Like

The Facebook paradigm is a social Internet alternative where not some but all your online social activity takes place, and where media is also shared. People want to gather in the big public square, not huddle in some musty and disreputable record store.

Apple’s “core competency” — the one thing Apple does best — is the replacement of clunky, confusing and ugly methods for consuming content with a clean, simple and beautiful Apple alternative. This is what Apple did with the iPod, iPhone, Apple TV and the iPad.

And “clunky, confusing and ugly” is exactly what Facebook has become. Now that Facebook is a media platform, it makes sense that Apple would want to provide the elegant alternative.

Right now, the only real contender for the social crown is Google, with it’s vastly superior Google+ network.

And Google+ provides a great model for an Apple social network. For starters, Google+ showed that you can use email to include your actual social network in the addressing of your posts, even if your family and friends never heard of the social network you’re on. That would be a great feature for Apple’s social network.

Google compiled its social network in large measure from existing services. Google combined Profiles, Gmail, Picassa, Talk, Voice, Contacts and other existing offerings — plus they stripped Google Buzz for parts — and used these components as the functioning building blocks for Google+.

They also did some really top-shelf interface design, especially the Google+ circles editor, a projected headed by one of the lead designers of the original Macintosh.

Apple could do the same thing. They could integrate Ping, MobileMe/iCloud, Contacts, iTunes and — wait for it — a Hangouts competitor based on FaceTime into a freshly designed, elegant do-it-all social network. In fact, Apple already has the most difficult and expensive parts of a killer social network.

And, come to think of it, Google is another would-be usurper of the Apple crown, first with the Android platform and then with the Motorola acquisition.

Facebook and Google are fighting for the future of mobility, media sharing and in fact the future of the social Internet. They’re also the two biggest companies with the nads to boldly challenge Apple over its core businesses.

It makes perfect sense for Apple to hit back and challenge these two companies in the world of social networking.

Apple has fewer “users” than Facebook and Google. But nobody’s fans are more loyal than Apple’s.

Apple’s iCloud service functions as online storage for pictures, music, movies, books and other content, as well as an email platform. In fact, this is a major component of any Facebook killer. The vast majority of Facebook’s costs center on bandwidth and storage for photos, for example.

Both Facebook and Google will figure out how to get your credit card number one day. Everybody wants to be Amazon.com, where users click one button to spend money. Facebook and Google intend to use integrated social networking features to motivate you to register all your credit card info on those social networking sites for one-click purchasing.

Meanwhile, Apple already has your credit card. The integration of music, movie and TV purchases on a social network could happen on a wide scale via the Apple network even before it really happens on Facebook or Google.

It would also integrate and leverage location data, and thereby integrate online with real-life social activity.

In fact, there’s some evidence that Apple is planning something along these lines. A few weeks ago, someone discovered code buried in the iCloud website that refers to a feature called “Find My Friends,” which suggests at least a Google Latitude like feature launched from iOS Contacts and at most a mobile social network.

Facebook this week has boldly slapped Apple in the face, challenging them over the future of media consumption.

And I think Apple should hit them back, by doing what they do so well: Replacing the ugly, the confusing and the clunky with a superior alternative that’s elegant, beautiful, simple and clean.

If Apple launched social network, would you join?



  • Mondetrotter

    I am already an Apple user and having a social network through Apple would make things a lot easier for me because it would integrate everything in a more elegant way.

  • Patrick Pengosro Mariano

    Apple has fewer “users” than Facebook and Google. But nobody’s fans are more loyal than Apple’s.
    –> in this context, yes, i will join what they will serve up. but what makes this idea wobbly is that most of apple’s dishes require that your family/friends own something apple.

  • Daniel Debner

    “Find my Friends” was found out about at least half a year ago. Not “a few weeks”

  • Jreed1235


  • twitter-33834391

    i would love to join a network if apple ever makes but sad to see facebook on a rampage like this will end up in suicide just the myspace way ! social networking is all about talking to people old and new … with these apps and stuff the personnel touch is lost ! one or the other way facebook will die as the social networking domain is full of cliches !

  • NajibBoss


  • Jeremy

    Funny that Cult of Mac would blog about starting an online Mac Cult. The walled tech.garden serves Apple very well but a walled social garden isn’t what social types want. Sorry.

  • mhikl

    Apple is definitely elegant and interesting and boy does it know how to plan things out. If Apple has been caught off guard by this Facebook move and by Google’s wallet endeavours and Google +, then something wobbly is definitely happening at the Apple orchard. But I suspect that Apple has been studying Facebook and Google + and understands its own advantage with credit cards, and has something up its sleeve. If not, then I should worry!

    But Patrick, the key might be iTunes, which is something “Apple” that doesn’t necessarily demand an Apple product. Besides, if Apple has something up its sleeve that is elegant, interesting and better planned, such would be another incentive to own something Apple.

  • h0stile

    here’s the catch. Apple doesn’t need a social network. they need a social platform. the difference between Apple and Facebook is that Facebook doesn’t have hardware to sell.

  • Gereon

    What this world needs is not another competititor going down facebook road but some kind of api (correct me on the term, as I am no expert here) for different providers hosting hosting users’ profiles and information.

    Advantages would be:

    1) If a company is going down the drain, not everything will be lost.

    2) Freedom of choice. There are a lot of people out there who don’t trust Apple, or facebook, r 
    google or <insert company=”” here=””>

    3) more flexibility

    4) you name it!</insert>

  • Mrcjones

    Here’s the thing. Facebook isn’t sustainable. Like myspace and others of the like, five yours from now fb will be tired and gone.

  • Delong Movies

    Apple has a history of not always being ‘ONE STEP ahead of the game, usually miles down the road!!  Look for Apple to dominate the social media sector as well in the NEAR FUTURE!! 

  • HotGG

    I think Apple will be in decline now that master-mojo-risin’ Steve Jobs is out. He was the company.

    I mean, they’ll come out with some great products, but they are already falling behind in terms of being a hip (please refer to Jobs), online web 2.0 or wherever we’re at, web-tech-geek-fad, soc.ial whatever… company.

    Can’t even come up with a way to really describe Facebook and its ilk.

    The tech-geek world is so finicky, so obsessed with the next thing on a daily basis, really, that fast, ON A DAILY BASIS, that already, the iPad is like losing its gloss. And you are all part of it, Apple fans. You’re salivating for a new fresh take on the iPhone, don’t front. 

    But something I can tell is starting to look or feel stale in the Apple world. I hope not, but I already see hints of boredom.

    The same mass consumer thats using your iPhone right now, you know, the non-computer-savvy mediocre crowd, they are not loyalists. They WILL go onto something better and shinier the minute something else comes up that works to their real world social status.

  • matrix07

    Join? Needs? I don’t have to join and Apple does’t need to build another social network. What they should do is make a network out of all iDevices out there like they started with iMessage. If all iDevices can connect together and share together then Apple has no need to build anything.

  • HotGG

    Hardware is not really key. Because FB and its ilk works on ANY platform, any web-smart device. Its hardware dependent but not brand or OS dependent. If one OS fails, like WebOS, for instance, no big deal, it still works in other platforms. Unaffected by that failure, it continues, total and complete immunity.

    Apple needs to jump in with Gplus and FB two like fast, like…yesterday. Its urgent.

    And doing it out of iTunes with Pingboy, or… wow, I forgot the name of that, isn’t going to cut it. 

    Its either got to buy something out there or something. LaLa was bought and what have they done with it? Nothing. iCloud music service? Thud.

    Brilliant company but starting to show signs of huge corporate vision suppression.

  • HotGG

    Apple needs a service where it has a little thumbs up, or a 1+ sign, like a little Apple logo or something.

    Apple needs an online service maybe through the new Cloud thing where people do the same social thing but through Apple, online. 

    Apple needs that little sign here as part of all the LOGIN options next too Yahoo, Google, AIM, Disqus, Twitter, OpenID, etc. 

    Call it AppleTalk or copy things – call it AppleID. 

    People love to comment, Apple needs that subtle but powerful presence, from COM to the New York Times, to LA Times, Huffington, CNN, you name it. Forget forums, its all about comment boxes baby!

    Thats key. 

  • sebzar

    I totally agree with history going to repeat itself. Recent news articles say people are using Facebook less and less. The reaction to Google+ is mainly about it being just another social network site trying to steal users from Facebook. I tested both Facebook and recently Google+ I wouldn’t want to share more then my name and my profession on those sites. Facebook, Google+ and in some extend Twitter are good for one thing only, companies wanting to make themselves visible. The only social network site having any form of meaning in my eyes is LinkedIn. But then again, they mainly focus on you sharing your name and profession not your personal life. The biggest part of my personal life stays at home and between my friends and family not on some website trying to make money by selling my personal details to companies I never heard about. People even have lost their jobs or cannot get a job because of what they write on such sites. Is it really worth all that?

  • Blkmohawk

    I totally agree!!!

  • iAmJasonPaul

    Apple effectively turned its nose up at the idea of streaming music when iCloud was introduced. Perhaps if they’d anticipated Facebook’s move they would have created a streaming option for iTunes. A few months ago streaming music was niche and a few days ago it went mainstream thanks to Facebook. Streaming music always threatened Apple’s antiquated iTunes model of selling music at a very high premium. Facebook has both liberated and legitimized subscription music services overnight.

    Nevermind Apple creating a usable social network (which it would seem to me they are quite a ways from) they would have to have a complete about face on how they sell/distribute media. I’ve been arguing all year that access to media is the future while owning media is the paradigm that breeds piracy.

    Apple is second to none when it comes to User Experience and would likely provide a better media consumption experience than Facebook (they already do via iOS). But when it comes to the new rules of the media economy Apple has clung to the past (because they made a killing this passed decade). But at the end of the day, the rate that we can consume media, iTunes makes no sense. Netflix and Rdio and all the others make perfect sense and are now (and soon to be) perfectly integrated into the juggernaut of Facebook’s 800milllion strong user base.

    In a nutshell, iTunes is over (if not instantly, very very soon) and this could actually be a very serious blow to Apple that could effect their entire business and perhaps even shrink them.


  • baby_Twitty

    Here’s what Apple should do.

    Buy Facebook.
    Then close it.

    Work done.

  • tofukitty

    I prefer buying content in a less social setting. I have not seen “The Notebook” but if I ever decide to, I don’t want to share it with the world. I like that apple does not have a search engine and does not have their finger in every other companies pie (like google and Facebook). Whenever I do anything on Facebook or google, facebook and googles partners end up finding new and annoying ways to sell me products. If I ran into a “loose weight in 30 days” ad on iTunes, I would probably be less likely to use iTunes. Apple sells good hardware primarily, content it’s like the frosting on their cake. Changing that dynamic drastically would push me elsewhere, so probably no, I would more than likely not use an apple social network… At least not it the way people use Facebook or google.

  • Nicolasbueby

    Today’s technomedia culture is already experiencing a consolidation of how we consume online content. While content is ever proliferating online users are finding the value of aggregation apps á la Flipboard and in essence Facebook for social media as well. If Apple were to launch a social network it should focus on integrating our online experiences; think iTunes, Flipboard, email/notifications, and social networking/FaceTime rolled into one place. Facebook’s an ever sprawling hot mess I would love to no longer have to check.

  • Devon

    Steve jobs could buy Facebook and turn it into his ping pong room!

  • Moses Wolfenstein

    There’s something fundamentally missing from this analysis, and it’s the piece that brought Apple back from the brink to begin with. Not all use cases for media consumption are the same. As long as Apple is making killer hardware that’s integrated with a purchasing mechanism for media, I don’t think they’re fundamentally threatened by Facebook. That is, as long as Apple users favor Apple hardware for listening to/watching media, they’re going to be buying that content inside the Apple ecosystem.

    Anyway, there’s a lot fo buzz around social but at the end of the day we don’t always want our media consumption to be social. In fact, music listening is the fundamental case in which most of our media experiences are individual and personal. In terms of the fight over video, while that’s a whole different story. However at the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that the model of content licensing that we’re still laboring under in terms of video is not sustainable. Hence, any business model that’s structured off of the status quo for video rights and distribution is also not ultimately sustainable. This of course will bear out in the next decade, but I think Hollywood might want to view the music industry as a cautionary tale.

    Finally regarding video, is video content really something where the primary forms of use are distributed? As long as the consumption of shows and movies takes place in solo or co-located contexts, then the issue is the point of sale question. I don’t personally see the moves Facebook has made as fundamentally biasing the Apple portion of the market towards purchasing video through them/their partners but again, I suppose time will tell. 

  • tofukitty

    I don’t see the point in apple trying to do what google and Facebook are doing. Apple does certain things extremely well. Producing hardware and selling content on an easy to use platform. Google and Facebook have seventeen million services that are not produced well, in fact most of their services have always been in beta… And probably always will be in beta. Mainly because they are using a ‘see what sticks’ philosophy for practically everything. Google and Facebook’s strength has been that they are always evolving… Google and FB will be where the cool kids are providing a way for them to talk about what they ate for lunch, and their weakness is they are inconsistent. How many times has FB completely changed how the site looks and feels only to confuse the less informed? Apple has almost always been consistent in that, you can always expects good hardware and reliable services, even if apple isn’t always using the newest trendiest social language. Another social network from apple wouldn’t make much difference for apples buisness. Making better OS’s, software and hardware is what apple needs to focus on.

  • SbMobile

    What paradigm? When FaceBook goes public, then tell me about them being a threat to Apple. Now, all of a sudden, FaceBook users are just going to start spending money in an environment they’ve been conditioned to expect “free” apps in!?! FaceBook’s appeal is that it’s free! Advertisers are blowing “tons” of cash on daily-ads that none of these companies can guarantee will make them any money. FaceBook’s riding the “social” bubble, while most people with any sense knows it could “pop” any time soon. These overvalued companies are a joke.

  • VotersRights

    Another thing about Facebook is the bizarre fact that despite being one of the largest online companies/services, they not only are ridden with phishing ads and malware, but Facebook themselves approves the ads that cause the problems and creates ads that intentionally look like part of Facebook, deceiving customers who unwittingly click on the ads only to have their identities stolen, passwords stolen, etc. Nobody in the media wants to hold Facebook accountable for it. Imagine if Apple were doing it, or Microsoft, the Internet would be filling with rants ripping the companies and calling for their heads. Facebook is a dishonest company to allow this nonsense to continue to go on, and profit from it’s existence, for years.

  • Tash Wahid

    My opinion is this is more of a concern for Google Microsoft and Sony then Apple.

  • Brittp2

    Why should Apple cross platform for a social network???? They make the best hardware and software. Them building a SNet would be like Rolls Royce building travel trailers. IMO, Apple came in from the Just Do It mania when SJ came back. No more printers or other commodities that other do better. There is no elegance in travel trailers but there is a PARK where you can live in them. FB seems like a ghetto for self indulgent folks who want to brag, lie, scheme or “Play” the world wide web.

  • SurferDude123

    Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, etc. under one roof is like having Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola on Android. They were put in one arena to kill each other while the ever powerful Apple is up there watching happily and seemingly unaffected with their immortal iTunes and iOS devices.

    Steve could see the future through the selfish, evil soul of ZICKerberg and he saw this thing coming. iTunes is on holy ground and it’s pure blasphemy to put it in a stable of pigs.

    Bring it on SUCKERberg. Do you seriously think that your FB users WILL DO MORE THAN JUST posting their messages and pictures for their relatives and friends? Let us know in a few months. LOL!

  • sahils

    i will do ANYTHING for apple!!!!! Apple will be a TRILLION dollar company by 2020.

  • Alex Bush

    I would definitely go with Apple.

  • Aro

    …we’ll never see a successful social network coming from Apple or any closed eco-system as Windows or any hardware maker. Twitter IS a social network company. The same for Facebook, LinkIn, for instance. Google may hit the success status with google+ because they already have an opened eco-system…

  • HotGG

    I agree. But Apple needs a presence online in the social bubble in order to stay upto date. Then if it bursts, which it may well burst, Apple backs off, they still have their iOS and hardware and rep. While the others tech-gold rush 2.0-ers, go the way of the dodo.

  • HotGG

    All Apple could do is turn all those existing, almost hidden, Apple support forum included, Mac.com, Me.com accounts into a social network and model it in soc.ial styles and bam – they’re in and people will join. If the social bubble bursts, they back off, close it up and STILL have their iOS and hardware. They still remain relevant.

  • CharliK

    The real question is: does Apple think Apple needs a social network? The answer is probably not. Why build their own when they can leverage something like Twitter and not have to reinvent the wheel

    And as long as none of those deals with Facebook are exclusives, canceling all iOS apps etc, do any of them really matter? Again, probably not

  • CharliK

    That needed presence is what all the twitter integration is about

  • CharliK

    Don’t be so quick to blame Apple. Remember they don’t hold the power. The labels, studios etc do. Apple can only worm their way into getting what they want so far and then things stop. The labels may have blocked the only streaming gig. Or maybe it just isn’t coming right now but will be added once they are sure the system is stable enough for the potential load

  • CharliK

    All idevices that can use ios5 will be able to imessage.

    Integrating ping and game center into the mix might be all the social they could add to it.

    Or there was talk at one point that Apple might create a kind of homepage where you could have your photos, ping messages, game center etc, constantly auto- updating for folks to check out. Maybe they will do something like that at some point as part of icloud.

    But really making the next Facebook? Don’t see it

  • CharliK

    I think time will show just how wrong you are. About Jobs being the company, about Apple declining etc.

    Maybe they won’t grow the way you and the geeks want, but I think they will grow and quite a bit.

  • iAmJasonPaul

    I think Apple does hold the power when it comes to the labels. They controlled the game of digital distribution for a decade. Labels played by Apple’s rules. And I think they wanted to keep it the way they had it setup. Veeeery profitable (for everyone). But they snubbed the streaming thing. I really think media streaming is a bit of a revolution. This is the next wave for music (and obviously media (netflix). Rdio, Spotify get beaten up by labels. If Apple cared about streaming then streaming could have gone mainstream years ago. They didn’t. Facebook has found their opening. Apple’s loss.

  • jamald

    The problem is that a social network needs to grab a big majority of people very quickly in order to succeed. People just stick with the network that has most of their friends. This is why Google+ is having a hard time. If Apple wants to start a social network, their best bet is to slowly grow the individual parts and their respective user bases, then swiftly consolidate those pieces once they each reach a certain size. It’s still a long shot though.

  • guest

    If Apple creates a more simplified and well-organized social network, yeah, I would join. Apple did it with their iPod ( considered to be mp3 player killer with the simplified way of uploading music, etc.)….also, if Facebook will suddenly be out of focus, it will become another Friendster or multiply…

  • Porkbamboo

    Or maybe they’ll go the way of the dildo

  • Ciclismo

    Two little notes that should’ve been considered whe the article was being written:

    1. This service expansion will only really be for users in the US and Canada. No-one else can use Hulu etc., which means business as usual for around 600 million FB users.

    2. Facebook is starting to suck – I haven’t heard a good thing about it from any of my mates, acquaintances or colleagues in months. And the latest update of the UI makes it a real bandwidth whore on the iPad. My FB usage has dropped to 5-10 minutes a week, and I am looking forward to an alternative that isn’t so obviously fixated on advertising revenue.

  • Ciclismo

    Two little notes that should’ve been considered whe the article was being written:

    1. This service expansion will only really be for users in the US and Canada. No-one else can use Hulu etc., which means business as usual for around 600 million FB users.

    2. Facebook is starting to suck – I haven’t heard a good thing about it from any of my mates, acquaintances or colleagues in months. And the latest update of the UI makes it a real bandwidth whore on the iPad. My FB usage has dropped to 5-10 minutes a week, and I am looking forward to an alternative that isn’t so obviously fixated on advertising revenue.

  • Porkbamboo

    You don’t have to check it. It’s up to you.

  • B_hegedus

    Its funny to hear so much negativity about facebook because I would venture to think that most people in this thread currently have a Facebook account and will likely post something before going to sleep tonight. I think if apple were to go into the social media world it would be best for them to purchase one of these established competing companies and run it separately from their current infrastructure. Social media is about market reach and that means going across platforms. If apple tried to do that with their current system I believe it would have major impacts on how well their devices work now. I personally don’t think its necessary for them to make the jump into social media. They are already making money hand over fist with the highest loyalty base you can ever want as a company. There model works great as is. I just wish they would kill all the lawsuits. They are just crap. They are all doing the same things…including them. The lawsuits just end up costing us money, make lawyers rich, and stifle innovation.

  • Porkbamboo

    Streaming is annoying. Poor sound quality & unreliable playback.

  • AgentJackBauer

    Yawn – more than 70% of facebook users are under the age of 21y/o.  With a big 50% of those users belonging to under 18 y/o (aka in High school).

    Facebook is another myspace plain and simple.  If there’s one internet craptastic creation that does nothing to improve life of mankind, that craptastic creation is Facebook.


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  • Brian Fløe

    Well, we’re working on it …. http://www.MyAppleSpace.com

  • Catdoohouse

    Totally agree about Facebook beginging to suck. The majority of my friends on Facebook have commented negatively about the recent update and they want the old one back. First and forthmost, Facebook is for keeping in touch with my friends and family, in my respect has privately has that is allowed to be and should stay exactly that. I have other applications for anything else i require, the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to min: is this the route Facebook want to take.

  • Ronteras

    LOL. Well said. 

  • Ronteras

    The question is, will the users trust their wallets to FB? With so much scam going around Facebook, I wouldn’t and I won’t.  On the other hand, Apple has highest trust rate from its users when it comes to the online purchase together with Amazon. 

  • rwanderman


  • grouver

    while you do make a compelling argument I am still not convinced that Facebook is in any way a competitor to Apple. Facebook is nothing more than an advertiser and a marketer. In fact they have positioned themselves as the go-between the service provider and the client. Apple is a service provider and a device manufacturer. They don’t need Facebook in order to get to the client. They in fact own the client and the channel. You are however, right that Apple desperately needs a social network that is considerably better than Ping and a lot more open than it. 

    Facebook on the other hand has a serious design problem with their new service. While they keep saying how important it is that their platform is open, their new shiny soon-to-be-launched sharing tool is not at all an open market. It is actually nothing more than a glorified advertising platform which in a sense tricks users into working for facebook as volunteer advertising agents. A much better approach would have been if users are allowed to share what it is that they are reading/watching/listening/etc. and their friends can use a preferred content supplier if they have one and go back to the original source if no preferred supplier is present. If I am a Pandora users I don’t give a f*** about a Spotify account and vice versa. I’ve made my choice as to the provider and at it’s current state Facebook does nothing for me. Not only that but a half baked feature like this would make a lot of users turn it off. So yeah best of luck to Facebook but this is no media platform and this is only scratching the surface of their problems. 

  • Hocko

    Bring it on Apple

  • Methoosulleh

    Facebook is like a high school fad….. like jelly bracelets. 

    It will be “THE IN THING” for a few years, and then…. meh

  • Bukituki

    Facebook is going to be the next MySpace

  • aramishero

    iCloud can become Social Network, if Apple do as Social Network too. Becoz iCloud got much more potential.

  • Nomadicone

    Yes I would join an Apple social network especially if it was like Google+. Unfortunately for Facebook much of the hardware is controlled by their competitors. Without Google, Apple etc Facebook is useless. These companies can integrate their own social networks into their OS so if they do it right they have a good chance of wiping the floor with Facebook.

    Now the two companies I trust most are Apple and Amazon, shame they are competitors cause they would make a great team, I can only dream.

  • dbwie

    Facebook is trying to be everything to everyone.  I predict that very few will actually use all of the new functionality on Facebook.  It is becoming too complicated and the interface is crowded instead of simple.  I see fewer and fewer posts from my friends and more and more commercial stuff when I go there.  

  • dbwie

    I think Apple should focus on promoting the use of Facetime on all of their iOS devices as an alternative to social networking.   

  • imbenking

    I stopped reading after this…

    “Facebook is now more directly threatening to Apple’s business model than Microsoft, Google and Sony combined. “

  • Gregintosh

    Streaming has been around for many years. Back in 2006 I had Rhapsody with unlimited streaming, but it was expensive at around $16 a month.

    Now, free streaming is kind of new, but ultimately, content providers are going to want to make real money and ads can only go so far.

  • iAmJasonPaul

    sound quality is fine…unreliable playback is not really so bad. It does glitch, but not so much so that I would ever go back to iTunes.

  • iAmJasonPaul

    Can’t look at this through the lense of ’06. Streaming + Social is incredibly powerful. Apple kind of knew this when they introduced Ping. But the music is just not portable with iTunes and that’s a part of why it was an abject failure.

    I believe it’s Facebook picking up the tab for the free streaming. They can afford it. (Streaming music is cheap!) And the lure of these streaming sites is that once you get used to them you’ll pay the subscription fees for the unlimited access to music (like many do for Netflix). I do for Rdio and I’m quite satisfied.

  • slackguy

    Apple’s customers pay big dollars. Facebook and Google’s customers don’t.

  • Brian Fløe

    We try: http://www.MyAppleSpace.com – and we also carrie CultOfMac.com on our Mission Control page: http://www.MyAppleSpace.com/missionco...

  • Danickstr

    i agree. I dont want my personal stuff in the hands of Facebook.  Apple already has it, so it might as well have the rest.

  • CharliK

    You bring up a huge point about Facebook. Design. They keep messing with it trying to make it cooler etc and they are making a muck out of it. What was once clean and crisp is now a chaotic mess. Compare this to google plus which is using a variant of googles original ‘just the box’ design mantra and Facebook looks even worse

  • CharliK

    In a way the pieces are there. Your single Apple ID is used for ping, game center, icloud. All they would need is a way to create a page where you can build a public profile and see your follower and GC friends stuff and they would have it.

  • CharliK

    I work in the Biz and trust me, Apple might be making the rules, but they can’t force the labels etc to play. The only time Apple gets what it wants is when they can make a clear argument for profit or they have leverage. They wanted DRM off music for years but the labels refused to allow it. It was only when the labels wanted to rewrite the contracts so they, not Apple, picked pricing did Apple have leverage to say ‘we’ll give you that if you take off DRM’. But the labels still control this like album only etc. Just like the studios still control when movies and shows go up, what quality, if there are rentals, sales or both, pricing etc. Apple would love to have all shows next day at SD and HD with all the back seasons, but the studios won’t budge (heads up their butts in my opinion). Apple has no leverage to force it and no verifiable facts to make an solid argument for it. Especially on tv shows where the crappy Nielsen system controls everything

  • Megazine

    Google (android) make$ no where near Apple (IOS) profits, especially last quarter. Sony has what Viao and Sony phones lol, dont get me started with windows phone 7. I can easily do this with other platforms like ituenes competion, iBooks competition, app store, mp3 players (iPod), lap top, desk top etc.

    You my friend should start reading where you left off.

  • The_couvite

    I think Apple should acquire, or at least be partners with, Diaspora*.  They would have a very small but steadily growing infrastructure, and Diasopra* is an open-source yet privacy-conscious organization, which is right up Apple’s alley.  It could be a really good move as a more secure alternative to Facebook.

  • funkyboy

    If they build it I’d join it but I think they’ll focus on what they do best.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    That was myspace. Facebook is used by FAR more people from ages 6-68.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    I’ve noticed that Google+ looks almost exactly like Facebook.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    I like Apple and Facebook. Facebook is great at gathering people together, as is Apple. They SHOULD be partners. Now, whether Apple pulled out of the Facebook and Ping integration or Facebook did; this needs to be rectified. I don’t think anyone has more music data about their customers than Apple.

    To answer the question if I would use an Apple social network……..I already use Ping. Ping needs to be it’s own .com though, as well as it’s own application on iPhone, iPad and Mac (The .com can be for Windows users and Linux users). The Ping integration in iTunes is cool, but it’s just integration. Why would I want to open iTunes just to use Ping? Makes no sense.

  • Karl

    I agree… I have gradually moved away from Facebook. I see this a desperate attempt for Facebook to continue to stay relevant and think it’s a good attempt. With 800 million users some of them will use the service, but for me, Apple has me covered with iPod, iTunes and AppleTV.

  • FB Hater

    Remember AOL?  Biggest on the web.  Then dead.

  • misteroo

    And you did not include Apps in your pitch. Take a look at this picture and see what Facebook is going to enable for mobile app discovery with friends

  • itsDavidAbraham

    Absolutely, and with iCloud they are perfectly positioned, however they would have to evolve to platform agnosticism which could be a stretch for them.

  • Heandyln

    iPadgames org The 1 site for iPad games
    Okay if you are fascinated with the dark side of anyone s life then you will enjoy getting involved with the life of Kiera Vale She wants to go back and discover her
    Source : http://www.ipadgamesfree.net

  • Dave Taylor

    I think you’re spot on. Facebook might be adding all this functionality, but given that I am already overwhelmed to the point of ignoring most of the friend updates on Facebook, why would I want to know what songs my 1200 friends are listening to, what shows they’re watching and when they last rented a movie? It’s data overload. This is a classic case of bringing that proverbial horse to water and being disappointed when it ain’t thirsty…

  • Dwbonline

    Seems to me that Facebook just became more scary than the H-bomb, the monster under my bed, HIV, and an empty Oreo cookie package rolled into one. Sorry, I don’t want everyone to know everything about me, what I’m doing, where I’m eating, shopping, and taking a crap.

  • WikBoo

    Yup, I would have to agree dude that makes a lot of sense.

  • MacGoo

    We’ve seen Apple’s attempts at social in the past – color me skeptical about this. I’m not even thoroughly convinced by your argument – historically Apple has been great at integrated hardware and software, but not so good at services (.mac/MobileMe and Ping come to mind). Hopefully iCloud will be different, and if it does well then this scenario might well play out in some way.

  • fjpoblam

    No. In my mind, FB has shown ties and liking with Yahoo! and M$. G has G+, of course. Apple already has ties with the efficient, terse, and quite satisfactory Twitter. Apple should pursue and strengthen this relationship. 

    I am quite happy with Twitter. It is my main online social arena. 

    Admittedly, all this is just a “feeling” on my part, a “guess”. Hard to explain. So kick me. No need for an Apple social network, and I wouldn’t join, as I don’t have time for it. I don’t sit here all day with my life tied to the screen. Better things to do.

  • wanorris

    Back in the 80s, IBM was vastly more profitable than Microsoft, Compaq, and every other little PC company put together. That, uh, didn’t exactly stop them all from being threats.

  • Nobody


  • blakerobinson

    Apple’s social network will be Facebook.

  • Brian Greenbaum

    Less than two weeks ago Mike Elgan wrote a lengthy post about why Facebook is the next Yahoo (http://www.datamation.com/feat….  Today he writes that Apple, the most powerful tech company in the world, must fear Facebook and build it’s own social network.  If Yahoo = Facebook and Facebook > Apple, does that mean Yahoo > Apple?  Of course not.

    With regards to this post, I do not believe Apple needs to build a social network to compete with Facebook… or anyone else for that matter.  In fact, I hope they don’t try because just like Google, Apple doesn’t get social.  

    Mike mentions that the iTunes recommendation environment is threatened by recos via Facebook.  Since when has recommendations within iTunes been a significant driver of customer purchases?  It hasn’t.  Ping was Apple’s attempt at it and it failed.  People buy the new Kanye album on iTunes because they want the new Kanye album, not because iTunes recommended it.

    The iTunes media store is one of many factors contributing to Apple’s success.  Facebook and Apple can co-exist side-by-side.

  • blairh

    I honestly think you are one of the worst people writing about technology today. I won’t be commenting ever again one of your articles, but let me stress how ridiculous your posts are. 

    Thankfully Chad Olsen took the time to breakdown how awful this current piece by you is. I’m done. Good luck moving forward. You might want to write about things you fully understand and make some legit predictions. Basically the complete opposite of the past. 

    Chad owning you:


  • snookasnoo

    This article is a good example of why COM has been garbage for some time now.  Its nothing more than nonsensical linkbait.
    Facebook would kill to have Apple’s financials and depth of products.
    Content and selling ads are a sideline for Apple not their main business.  That fact alone makes this entire article useless.
    Last time I checked Facebook doesn’t sell 
    ComputersOperating SystemsCell phonesiPodsTabletsSeriously folks this article is idiotic.

  • gubatron

    I think the timing is probably not right for this, we’re suffering from social networking fatigue.

    I hope eventually social graphs will be open and you think of facebook, google, apple, microsoft as mere clients to your social interactions, but they all share the same people.

    More value will be added on features and tools, but you won’t be missing anything because you’re on one network or the other. Just like email.

  • JohnDoey

    Apple already has a social network. It’s called “iOS.” It has about half as many users as Facebook, but it is also half the age of Facebook. iOS is actually scaling faster, and will have more users than Facebook by 2015. Apple’s users spend much more time with iOS than Facebook’s users do with Facebook. Apple has their user’s credit card numbers or iTunes Gift Card numbers, while Facebook an only sell its user’s privacy to other businesses. People who are really into Facebook buy iPhones and iPads and Macs. Facebook sells Apple products. Facebook brings non-technical consumer users into computing, and those users are prime Apple customers. In many cases, Apple is the only one that enables that kind of user to even get to Facebook. I have a friend who said no to iPhone for 3 years until she signed up for Facebook and became a junkie and had to get an iPhone to be in constant contact with Facebook. Suddenly, she saw a purpose to having an iPhone. Apple made more money off her than Facebook did, and that will continue year after year. So how is Facebook hurting Apple again?

    Zuck was doing his best Jobs impersonation at f8, not the other way around. That says good things about Apple, not bad things. Apple doesn’t care if people buy iPads to watch iTunes movies or Facebook movies. They still bought an iPad.

    Apple went in am entirely different direction than everyone else over the past 10 years, and it turned out Apple was right and everyone else wrong. The only bad thing you can say about Apple is they do not get enough competitive pressure, they have to be driven only to outdo themselves while the rest of the industry travels back along their wrong path for 10 years to get to where Apple is. Apple could stop all sales for 10 years and still be in the black at the end. They are not in any trouble at all. HP and Microsoft are in trouble.

    And Apple is definitely a Consumer Electronics company. Apple makes almost no money selling content. You can look it up in their financial statements. With music, 90% goes to the publisher, and 10% to overhead, and Apple makes nothing. With apps, the developer gets 70%, 29% goes to overhead, and Apple keeps 1%. That is an insignificant amount compared to Apple’s core business of computer hardware. Their only significant products are iPod (music playing computer,) iPhone (communications computer,) iPad (mobile computer,) and Mac (notebook, desktop, workstation, and server computers.) Everything else is an accessory for those 4 products lines. Even AppleTV is just a wireless TV adapter for those 4 core product lines, it is equivalent to AirPort Extreme.

  • Hrunga_Zmuda

    Apple is a hardware company. They make very little money on content. It’s hard to believe someone could be that mistaken. Either that, or someone is desperate for some hits. That kind of writing would bring one a reputation on the level of Dvorak. (Used to be good, now needs a dose of lithium.)

  • J_whed

    Don’t we all know by now that Elgan is a washed up hack who gets nothing right?

  • Brian Ashe

    “Apple isn’t so much a consumer electronics company as it is a media platform.”

    LOLOLOLOL http://www.businessinsider.com

  • dougscripts

    I bet Facebook wishes it had your Apple ID.

  • frankguillen

    Apple is a hardware company – but that hardware is used  for content consumption, I would like to see Apple putting money into Youtube rival like Vimeo, a Youtube replacement is needed and Vimeo could help, same with Maps and Search, Apple should buy Yahoo search index and make some filter to clean the information users get, rename it Spotlight or Sherlock and gives Google the boot, Apple needs to guarantee fresh content and content can only be guaranteed if Apple invest in some media-content company or movie studio, Apple should stop depending on others content makers.

    If I were Tim Cook (with all the respet he and his team at Apple deserve) I will be buying right away, Yelp, Instagram and licensing Yahoo content and Ask.com content to launch a Search+Content Unit. Content is king and Apple is the king of Content distribution, so it’s natural to have its own content-making unit inside Apple and exclusive to Apple’s users.

  • Aviate29

    um, how are you supposed to listen/watch any of facebook’s media offline?

  • makeinu


    In the past decade, Apple has succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination with iPod, iTunes, iPhone, the App Store, the Apple Store and the iPad. And although Apple TV hasn’t succeeded on the same level as other runaway hits, it’s still pretty cool.

    Four hardware devices, an online (and physical retail) outlet that sells hardware, and two software distribution services that are dependent upon the hardware. And the author is comparing this to YouFace, FaceTube, MyBook, whatever that “billboard your life, privacy be damned” site for idiots is called?

    Good lord. Go back on whatever meds you stopped taking.

  • Jymkem

    Its these kinds of awful jackassery that leads me to believe there are some hacks with a keyboard out there that haven’t the slightest clue on what is going on yet are still willing to publish it, if only for some hit whoring. The inevitable result of too much inbreeding. 

    Elgan uses the word ‘paradigm’ like he’s being paid to annoy people with it. Makes me want to smack him in the face with a handful of live eels. 

  • Daniel Nicholls

    This all sounds wonderful…if you live in the USA. Fact is, Facebooks media services are only as good as the actual services they merely connect to. I noticed that most of the ones listed in your article are not available outside the USA. Yet another great example of people thinking USA is the centre of the world. 

  • John M.

    “Apple isn’t so much a consumer electronics company as it is a media platform.”

  • inm

    Most companies in Apple’s position would plunge right into that market without thinking things through: thats why Microsoft is losing billions of dollars per year on their internet division. Apple is not in the business of losing money: so they have to be cautious about how they approach this. There is no doubt that this is a huge market: you just have to look at Facebook’s valuation or see how businesses react to wanting to get traction on Facebook. There’s an entire array of companies listed at http://buyfacebookfansreviews…. for example that do nothing other than help businesses get Facebook fans. If this doesn’t indicate to the casual observer how important businesses see Facebook to their future, I don’t know what will.

    Apple is the biggest company in the world without seriously competing in social media. Do they really need to wage war with Facebook right now? Apple has some advantages to be sure: their huge datacenters, iCloud stuff, Ping, iAds, Game Center, and millions of paying iTunes credit cards on file so they have some of the pieces in place already. But Facebook is really solidly established and cannot be taken down easily. I think its a losing proposition to fight Facebook directly. My prediction is that they will partner with Facebook to take down Google a notch or two and direct their resources towards TV: which is the last step to conquering the entire entertainment ecosphere. Apple will continue to work with Ping and Game Center and some of these marginal services and might release some more phone based location features, but its not something that I think is likely to be core to Apple’s efforts. Taking down Facebook directly may be too hard even for Apple right now.

  • Kannan Chandrasegaran

    and that is why you are not, in fact, tim cook.

  • Charlie_Magnus

    “Apple has fewer “users” than Facebook and Google. But nobody’s fans are more loyal than Apple’s.”

    This is not necessarily an advantage in creating a social network which, one would assume, should be geared at the world at large, not only the loyalists.

  • Charlie_Magnus

    Facebook would just buy a hardware company to do that for them. Not sure it would work, but it would not be an impossible option.

  • Charlie_Magnus

    Sony tried walking that lane, and it brought them no profit to talk of.

  • Charlie_Magnus

    “Apple already has a social network. It’s called “iOS.””

    A refreshing and poignant insight.

    Your last paragraph also neatly explains why it would be h-ll of a work for anyone else to climb the same hill. They would have to forego profits.

  • Charlie_Magnus

    You have a good feel. The very idea of Twitter is very apple-esque in its “terseness”.

  • bbrewer

    So, you don’t mind if your music skips a lot then?    LOL, come up with a credible lie next time.

  • bbrewer

    As opposed to the Walled MSFT garden where you all call in daily for tech support?

  • Nick Paul

    Isn’t Facebook’s appeal that it is available across all platforms and that it isn’t associated to one specific platform? I don’t believe an apple social network is the answer, I believe collaboration between Apple and social networks will be the company’s future. I could be wrong.