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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.