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Facebook and Apple: it’s complicated

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iOS is one of the most popular ways to use the Facebook app on mobile devices. Facebook sharing is also integrated into iOS and OS X. Apple and Facebook have a good thing going together. However, things may not be quite as cozy as they seem; the relationship could even be on the rocks if you read between the lines of what Mark Zuckerberg had to say on Thursday.

Thursday was Facebook’s(s FB) big day: the rollout of Facebook Home, the first piece of the company’s attempt to be a primary interface for mobile devices. Notably, it’s a launcher for Android(s GOOG) phones only. Still, Apple(s AAPL) came up a fair amount during the discussion around the unveiling of Facebook’s latest mobile ambitions. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say anything directly negative about Apple, the iPhone and their partnership, but the two seem to be drifting further apart philosophically.

Here’s what he said in two interviews published Thursday:

Zuckerberg may really want Facebook Home to be on the iPhone, but it’s likely never going to happen, and he knows it. Here’s how he avoided saying that in an interview with Fortune:

We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today, and we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can within what they want, but I think that a lot of people who really like Facebook — and just judging from the numbers, people are spending a fifth of their time in phones on Facebook, that’s a lot of people. This could really tip things in that direction. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

He admits that philosophically the team down in Cupertino is pretty different than the hackers in Palo Alto. As he told Wired:

There are a bunch of companies that try to make every release perfect, and Apple is the best at that. That’s wonderful, but there’s another way of doing things that’s potentially even better over the long term—allow yourself room to experiment and don’t try to make each individual release as polished as possible.

While Google and Facebook are very much direct competitors, Facebook is actually far more similar to Google. From the same Wired interview:

We have a pretty good partnership with Apple, but they want to own the whole experience themselves. There aren’t a lot of bridges between us and Google, but we are aligned with their open philosophy.

Facebook and Apple are friends now but they haven’t always been. It’s pretty easy to see that if Facebook does try to morph this Android launcher into a version of a Facebook mobile operating system some day, it may find itself on a similar trajectory as Apple frenemy-in-chief, Google: once integral iOS partner to just another appmaker on the App Store.

17 Responses to “Facebook and Apple: it’s complicated”

  1. i think that now, Facebook is trying their best to improve the quality of their social network. I still hope that Apple and Facebook can co- operate to release many interesting thing but after this writings, it seems to be impossible

  2. ghodagadi

    I think Zuckerberg isn’t telling the complete truth, facebook’s relationship with Google is exactly like Apple’s relationship with Facebook. Apple wants to control the user experience on its devices and Facebook wants to control search on its platform. They are unwilling to let Google index Facebook and rightly so. But saying they are aligned with Google’s open philosophy isn’t true. If it was they should open source Facebook, but I don’t see them doing that anytime soon. Or to prove his point at least external parties like Google index Facebook. That would be a good test of how true his statement on alignment of philosophy is. If they do it in the next 6 to12 months, I will believe otherwise its just a distortion of the truth.

  3. David G

    Zuckerburg’s comment… We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today… I mean come on. You want Apple to replace their homes screen with FaceBook… that would go down great in the Corporate world. Then suggesting if enough kids start using Apple with have no choice… thankfully, I would say we’re safe.

    The day Facebook takes over the iPhone or any phone is the day I give up smartphones.

    There is no value in having facebook home, unless you’re a kid / teenager, out of work or possibly retired (maybe in 50 years).

    Leave Facebook as a 1 click access on the home screen app and along with all the other notification centre alerts it’s really about as far as Apple needs to go.

  4. Nicholas Paredes

    I never understand the focus on Apple’s “perfection.” Apple refines a computing service down to the essential core, and simply does not create additional functionality. More than anything, they don’t want to confuse users through ambiguous features and functionality. As anyone can see, even iOS has plenty of issues.

    We are about to test one nagging issue. Do mobile device users want a phone that manages content? Or, do they want a phone to run apps that manage specific functionality? As the Windows Phone demonstrated, surfacing information is appealing. It also butts up against privacy.

    Advertising on the home screen is going to be death, unless it is super prioritized, which means that it will bypass Google. I’m sure Google could care less about mobile advertising revenue, and is more than happy to spend millions on a foundation that Amazon, Facebook, and Samsung can make their own. Cough.

    Break out the popcorn!

  5. B. Jesus

    Facebook relationship with Apple? An app launched in October 2012 and a poor web experience before that.

    From BI Oct 2 2012:
    In the interview with Lauer, though, Zuckerberg downplayed the importance of Apple’s iOS platform:
    iPhone is a great platform. There are more people who use Facebook on Android — because Android is just — more people use it, at this point. And the thing that I think a lot of people don’t think about is that there are actually more people in the world using Facebook on mobile Web, right, so not using the apps on iOS or Android, but actually just going to a browser on a phone. There are more people doing that than the iPhone and all of Android phones combined, right? So it’s actually a pretty diverse ecosystem.

    I dont think FB have ever been close to iOS.

  6. Since when has ‘open’ meant the same as ‘free’? And, just how ‘open’ is anything from Google- open to what, who, and when…? Like people say, have an open mind, but leave the back door closed so wind doesn’t clean everything out. And just what particular versions of android will Home work on?

  7. Would be interesting to see whether “Facebook Home” would actually let people move over to Android away from iOS. This would also help us to understand the market and non-technical users a lot better and to see what the average user wants, not what big companies and techies say the average user wants.

    • Nicholas Paredes

      What does Android have to do with Home? Google’s OS is simply an easy path to market, and provides the apps that Facebook, or Samsung, don’t want to build.

      Apple will never release control of the OS as with the Kindel. They will never allow implicit advertising to clog the OS. And, they will never allow a company to design the interface. If this is losing, one will have to ask Google how it feels to be the winner.

      • And it is because Apple don’t want to release the control of the OS that it might loose more market share. The point I’m trying to make is that most of your active Facebook users are also the iDevice users. If a significant percentage of these users see value in Facebook Home, then they might move over to the Android eco-system (which is still bigger than Samsung).

        I think Google is pretty happy to be the winner in the mobile operating system market, in a very short time they became the dominant player and all signs are that they are going to grow even more. Pretty good for a company that released control over the OS and gave consumers more power to decide what they want.

  8. Digital facts

    What… Telecom Dude, are you stuc in a different reality or what.

    What you just said is the most ridiculous and one sided Apple hate propaganda.

    Apple makes more money then Google, then Samsung , then any other phone supplier and also pays the highest in Apps to designers at close to 4 billion plus last year alone.

    Also, Apple is the safest mobile OS as proven by government standards and countless released documents, they are widely used in Airports and airlines, in countless government facility’s and have been certified to be used live in the cockpit of all major airlines.

    That so called control you hate so much doesn’t allow others like Facebook and google to get your private information, what do you think the Facebook add is…..? Is a Ad Placement in your pocket, it will track and send information to Facebook on your location every second of every day you have it with you and you don’t think this is a problem..

    And you really think Apple is the problem Facebook has been caught mutable time stealing and using information.

    See the real problem is people like you not taking your privacy serious, but when something happens ” and it will ” you will understand the importance of controlling this information and not allowing FB or Goolgle control it.

    • Digital facts

      So Suckerburg thinks by releasing half baked software it’s going to help them..

      Ask Microsoft how that worked out for them lately.

      When all those phones crash and burn he will learn a lesson that he hasn’t yet…. DON’T PLAY WITH THINGS YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT.

      Yea we have a real winner here, NOT.

  9. Telecom Dude

    It seems to me that being just another appmaker on the App Store is better than “integral iOS partner” when it comes to Apple who wants to own the whole experience themselves.

    Good to see Facebook, hackers as they are, talking up open philosophies.