The Rocky Relationship Between Apple and Facebook [Report]

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Apple and Facebook are two tech titans that have been known to butt heads every now and then. When Apple introduced the Ping social network in iTunes, Facebook denied Apple access to integrate the two networks. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Ping is just one example — there have been multiple talks behind closed doors that have resulted in the two companies almost parting ways for good.

Over the weekend, Mashable posted inside information on the convoluted history of Apple and Facebook. Stories include the Facebook integration in iOS 4 that never saw the light of day, Steve Jobs paying Mark Zuckerberg a visit about an iPad app, and how Facebook and Apple nearly fell out because of HP.

Recent rumors have suggested that Facebook will be integrated alongside Twitter in iOS 5, but it appears that Apple has been working on Facebook integration for a long time:

“A source familiar with the chain of the events attributes the Ping debacle to a disagreement over iOS 4. Apple had fully integrated Facebook into the iPhone and iPad’s operating system, and was ready to launch the mobile-social fusion when API negotiations broke down. Apple, lacking confidence in Facebook’s ability to build a great application, asked to build its own Facebook for iPhone app. Facebook responded with a firm no. Negotiations came to halt.”

The Facebook iPhone app remains one of the most downloaded apps in the App Store to date, but it’s interesting to think about how things would be different had Apple made its own Facebook app.

According to a developer that worked on the project, Facebook has been sitting on an iPad app for months. Why hasn’t it been released in the App Store? Facebook made no mention of an iPad app at its annual F8 conference a couple of weeks ago. What’s been keeping Zuckerberg from pulling the trigger?

HP is the reason that Facebook has yet to release its iPad app, according to Mashable. This app was such a big deal for all parties involved that Steve Jobs himself payed Zuckerberg a visit recently:

“Roughly three months ago, Steve Jobs — then the Apple CEO — paid a visit to Facebook to discuss a Facebook for iPad application with CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg promised Jobs that the social network would release its first ever tablet application for iPad. Jobs, however, learned during his visit that HP was about to release a native webOS Facebook application for the TouchPad.”

Facebook had been playing both sides. Zuckerberg had been promising Apple an iPad app while at the same time working on an official client for HP’s TouchPad tablet — one of the iPad’s former rivals.

According to Mashable, Jobs was apparently so mad at Facebook over taking sides with HP that Zuckerberg called Jon Rubinstein at HP to pull the Facebook app for the TouchPad. Rubinstein refused to let Facebook halt development, so Facebook restricted HP’s access to its APIs. HP saw Facebook’s app as one of the biggest potential draws for consumers to choose the TouchPad over the iPad. (That didn’t really work out.)

Mashable believes that Apple and Facebook have made amends for the time being:

“Not only are the pair finally aligned on the Facebook for iPad application, but they’ve been working together closely on Facebook’s HTML 5 mobile app platform.

This is the closest Apple and Facebook have been to creating something meaningful together, one source says. They’re partnering because they share a common enemy: Google.”

Interesting. Facebook’s secret “Project Spartan” project could be unveiled this Tuesday. Apple could announce the official Facebook iPad app, or we could all be surprised to learn that Facebook has been completely integrated into iOS 5.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see.