Have Apple and Facebook just merged…virtually?
Social media still has an important role to play in the company’s future, and it needs to forge the right strategy. Rather than rolling its own, the company needs to ensure that existing social platforms are integrated with its products in ways that benefit its customers.
The first phase of that strategy is well underway. Once Apple pushes out the next Mountain Lion and iOS 6 update, both of the company’s major operating systems will feature deep integration with Facebook and Twitter. But why stop there? That integration could be even deeper, and more important, it could include other popular social networks.
Posting iPhone photos directly to Facebook and Twitter is nice, but the visual nature of Pinterest and Instagram begs for equally easy sharing to those services from within iOS. Tweeting and posting status updates from across the OS is great for users (and the services, at least as far as Twitter was concerned when iOS 5 launched), but there may come a day when the unthinkable becomes unavoidable and we see a Google+ button baked into the operating system. Don’t hold your breath on that one.
However Apple’s social strategy shapes up, it will have to – by definition – serve the interests of users.
Why Apple Needs a Real Social Network
Facebook and Google are fighting for the future of mobility, media sharing and in fact the future of the social Internet. They’re also the two biggest companies with the nads to boldly challenge Apple over its core businesses.
It makes perfect sense for Apple to hit back and challenge these two companies in the world of social networking.
Apple has fewer “users” than Facebook and Google. But nobody’s fans are more loyal than Apple’s.
Apple’s iCloud service functions as online storage for pictures, music, movies, books and other content, as well as an email platform. In fact, this is a major component of any Facebook killer. The vast majority of Facebook’s costs center on bandwidth and storage for photos, for example.
Both Facebook and Google will figure out how to get your credit card number one day. Everybody wants to be Amazon.com, where users click one button to spend money. Facebook and Google intend to use integrated social networking features to motivate you to register all your credit card info on those social networking sites for one-click purchasing.
Meanwhile, Apple already has your credit card. The integration of music, movie and TV purchases on a social network could happen on a wide scale via the Apple network even before it really happens on Facebook or Google.
It would also integrate and leverage location data, and thereby integrate online with real-life social activity.
In fact, there’s some evidence that Apple is planning something along these lines. A few weeks ago, someone discovered code buried in the iCloud website that refers to a feature called “Find My Friends,” which suggests at least a Google Latitude like feature launched from iOS Contacts and at most a mobile social network.
Facebook this week has boldly slapped Apple in the face, challenging them over the future of media consumption.
And I think Apple should hit them back, by doing what they do so well: Replacing the ugly, the confusing and the clunky with a superior alternative that’s elegant, beautiful, simple and clean.
If Apple launched social network, would you join?
iOS 6 is burning up data lines from Anchorage to Mumbai, and OS X 10.8.2 is not far behind. Both include major integrations with the largest social network in the world, Facebook.