Apple and Facebook - Relationship Status: Flirty
Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped a small hint recently regarding Facebook's place in Apple's next version of iOS. Social network integration is something Apple's already tried with Twitter; now it seems Facebook features may work their way into iOS as well. More details will likely surface next week at Apple's WWDC.
06/06/12 5:00 AM PT
Apple may be forming a close friendship with Facebook as the iPhone maker develops its next-generation mobile OS, judging by a comment from Apple CEO Tim Cook at the recent D: All Things Digital conference.
Taking the stage for a public interview at the event, Cook was asked about Facebook integration in iOS 6, the presumed name for the next version of Apple's mobile operating system. Cook noted he had great respect for the social network and told the audience to "stay tuned" on that relationship going forward.
It would not be the first time Apple ties a social network into its operating system. The company integrated certain aspects of Twitter directly into iOS 5 so that an iPhone or iPad user can Tweet directly from apps such as Safari, YouTube or the built-in camera without launching a separate Twitter app. A similar alliance between Apple and Facebook could let users "Like" or comment on a status or photo without being in the Facebook app.
A partnership could benefit social networking standards as whole, said David Card, vice president of research at GigaOM Pro.
"A potential Facebook-iOS 6 integration with packages of integrated API sets could help establish standards in identity management, location-based check-ins and other mobile APIs," he told MacNewsWorld.
If a partnership were to go forward, Google would be notably missing from Apple's social networking comrades. But even though competition between the two remains fierce and recent reports suggest that Apple will move away from Google's mapping programs on its newest operating system, Card said that a Facebook-Apple alliance isn't likely to push Google+ any further out the door. In fact, he said, if the Facebook integration would follow the Twitter model, it's unlikely that Facebook would be a huge winner, either.
"Facebook's app discovery is pretty weak, so I doubt adding Like buttons to iOS apps will be Earth-shattering. Easier photo- and link-sharing are obvious places to start, but unlikely to be market-share shifters," he said.
Apple's upcoming annual Worldwide Developer's Conference is just around the corner, and the event often serves as the stage for major company announcements. This year, the MacBook is expected to be the center of attention as the line receives a makeover.
"The company is ready for new MacBooks, and a new version of the iCloud might also be coming," Hendi Susanto, an analyst at Gabelli, told MacNewsWorld.
The MacBook line has been the subject of various rumors, including a quad-core Ivy Bridge processor, retina displays much like the most recent version of the iPad, or perhaps a thinner chassis.
An update to iOS is also expected, perhaps the launch of iOS 6, which would include greater social and iCloud integration, said Susanto.
While Apple might be examining friendships with social networks, Samsung remains a fierce competitor, especially as patent litigation rages on between the two companies. And Samsung may be gaining on Cupertino in regard to handset sales, according to a new report from Canaccord Genuity. Analyst Michael Walkley projected that together, the two will control 52.3 percent of the total global smartphone market by 2013.
But Samsung would be the bigger leader, taking 31.3 percent of the marketshare at the end of 2013, said Walkley, compared to Apple's 21 percent with 204.1 million iPhone unit sales.
While Samsung is catching up in the smartphone race, though, the iPhone is a more profitable device in sales than most of its Samsung counterparts, said Susanto. Market share might be shifting, but the iPhone will continue to have a spot on the leaderboard, at least in the near future, he noted.
"I think what people are talking about is Samsung being the No. 1 leader in mobile devices in general," said Susanto. "People have the view that some of Samsung's line will be able to outpace market growth in the smartphone category, especially as Samsung is pushing the Galaxy and they're expanding to more carriers. But I think that the same time Apple has everything in its ecosystem, with the integration with iTunes and everything, so the iPhone will continue to sustain growth going forward."
Apple didn't respond to our request for comment.