Photo: Asa Mathat | All Things Digital
Last weekend, the New York Times reported that Facebook was staffing up with ex-Apple engineers to start making smartphones.This sounded like a godawful idea.
Investors had the same reaction, pounding the stock down another 10% on Tuesday.
But here’s some good news…
Some comments Apple CEO Tim Cook made at the All Things D conference last night suggest–to me, anyway–that Facebook may not actually have to build smartphones, after all.
Specifically, in response to a question about why Twitter is integrated with Apple’s iOS operating system and Facebook isn’t, Tim Cook said the following:
“I think our relationship [with Facebook] is good. I think we can do more with them. Stay tuned.”
“We want to provide customers a simple way to do what they want to do. Facebook has millions of customers. We want them to have the best experience on our platform.“
Steve Jobs once referred to Facebook’s requirements for integration as “onerous.” But Cook seemed to be more open to the idea:
“They have their way of doing things. But people say that about us. It doesn’t mean you can’t work with them.“
Now let’s read between those lines and then think about what this means.
- All of Cook’s comments suggest that Facebook and Apple are working on integrating Facebook into iOS. (What else could they do together?)
- There is no way that Apple would integrate Facebook into iOS if Facebook were about to go into the smartphone business and compete with Apple.
- Facebook can get what it wants out of smartphones by being integrated into iOS (and other platforms).
So, now let’s reinterpret last weekend’s news.
Maybe Facebook has been working on a dual-track process, whereby it keeps negotiating with Apple but also holds out the possibility of going into the smartphone business itself. Maybe Facebook has finally now decided to work with Apple instead of competing against it. (Because it certainly can’t do both.)
OK, that’s reading a lot into those remarks. But that was the impression I got.
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