Apple and Facebook: Friends or Enemies?

Today we’ll be discussing two very separate companies that have been recently thrown in together in headlines all over the web: Facebook and Apple. The two major topics of discussion might surprise you.

Is Facebook secretly working on a major iOS competitor? Is Apple positioning itself to buy Facebook? Below we’ll take a look at what’s fueling these two rumors and discuss whether or not they’re likely to come to fruition.

A Facebook Mobile Phone Platform?

Our first story isn’t so much about the Apple as it is yet another potential threat to their mobile operating system iOS. It seems Facebook of all companies might be the next big player to throw its hat into the fiercely competitive ring of mobile phone platforms.

Gawker reports that Facebook is launching “an iPhone War from a Secret Bunker” where they are either building their own platform from the ground up or, more likely, creating a custom Android build.

To me, this seems like a very odd move for Facebook. Sure, Facebook is the first app most people want to download on their phone but creating operating systems is a far cry from their core competency. Further, would a Facebook-centric Android build really make that big of a splash? It would have to bring some serious competitive advantages to the table in order to not end up just a fad that burns out quickly and loses far more money than it brings in. I don’t so much doubt that Facebook is indeed embarking on this venture as I doubt the likelihood of its ultimate success.

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Facebook Headquarters (credit: laughingsquid.com.)

The Gawker article also speaks of significant animosity between Apple and Facebook where the iPhone is concerned. I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t reflected in the rapid disappearance of Facebook integration in Ping and the strange lack of an official iPad Facebook application. Facebook is easily one of the most popular iPhone apps in existence and it has puzzled me that they haven’t followed up that success with an iPad version. I’m both a huge fan of Apple and a regular Facebook user so I hope the two can learn to play nice!

Apple Buying Facebook?

Alongside stories about Apple and Facebook not getting along is the incredibly random curve ball that Apple should, or even might be, consider purchasing Facebook! Peter Kafka couldn’t help but notice that Apple’s $51 billion in cash is more than enough to buy Facebook outright, but is that really an indicator of anything?

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That's a lot of zeros

As with the last story, this one just doesn’t sit well with me. Simply because something is possible doesn’t make it likely. Apple buying Facebook is a puzzling strategic move for the company. Unlike Google, Apple’s strategy remains fairly focused though it definitely makes a few giant leaps from time to time.

But to what end would this giant leap be for? Sure, Apple made a modest attempt to launch a social network with Ping, which seems to be falling flat on its face, but that was more of a small feature haphazardly thrown into iTunes than a reason to jump off and make a huge acquisition so they have a new avenue to sell music through.

It seems likely that an acquisition is exactly what Jobs and his clan have in mind for their pile of cash (what else could you spend so much money on but an overvalued company?), but I can’t help but wonder if Kafka is way off in his guess. The trend that Apple has been on is much more aimed at groundbreaking, future-changing technology like mutli-touch and increasingly mobile computing. Purchasing Facebook to make up for the failure of Ping just seems like a major derailment from that goal.

What Do You Think?

This is the part where we throw it back to you for your opinions. Do you think Facebook is quietly planning an attack against Apple by releasing their own mobile operating system as a direct competitor to iOS? If so, do you think it will be a major player or a fast failure?

Further, is it possible that as Facebook plans to launch an offensive against Apple that Apple is considering purchasing the company outright with its massive store of cash? If Apple isn’t going after Facebook, how do you think they’ll put the money to good use? We want to hear your thoughts!


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