Over the weekend, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg met for some dinner, and smart money would rest on the bet that they were trying to work out some sort of deal where Facebook and Ping come together at last.
But could Apple’s interest be far more bold than merely ironing out some differences? Peter Kafka over at All Things D certainly thinks so: he speculates that Apple may want to buy Facebook outright with its $51 billion in cash reserves.
Here’s Kafka’s reasoning. Asked by Jobs what Apple intends to do with all of its cash, Jobs responded: “We firmly believe that one or more unique strategic opportunities will present itself to us, and we’ll be in a position to take advantage of it.” As Kafka sees it, Facebook’s a good bet for such an acquisition.
It’s potentially a strong investment: the grand vision of Facebook is a centralized Internet with the connections voluntarily self-mapped between users and advertisers. As such, Facebook’s competing directly against Google, which favors an algorithm-based approach to the same end. Buying Facebook would make Apple a credible threat to Google as the de facto author of the future Internet’s Manifest Destiny… and pay off big in advertising money down the line.
Interesting food for thought, at any rate, but my guess is that Zuckerberg is in this for the long haul. Either Facebook topples Google as the most important internet company out there, or it becomes the next MySpace. In his own way, Zuckerberg is just as much as a visionary as Jobs: I doubt simply cashing out for the money is really in Zuckerberg’s cards.