The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect


Can Facebook really challenge Apple’s digital hub?

Blogger Mike Elgan has a sharp view of Facebook's many media-related announcements last week:

Facebook has moved aggressively into Apple territory with a competing model or paradigm for all this. The Facebook model is that we discover content not by browsing iTunes, but by monitoring our New Feed for what our friends and family are enjoying. When we see a friend is listening to a song, we’ll be able to tune and listen with them. We’ll allow our friends to influence purchases and rentals for TV, movies and all kinds of content.

The Facebook initiative has critics, including Yours Truly. But Facebook can’t be dismissed as a threat to Apple. The new Facebook leverages that social network’s massive reach (which CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims attracts a half-billion users a day) to attract attention to iTunes alternatives.  Either Facebook will succeed as a “primary entertainment hub,” or it will fail. If it fails, then Apple has nothing to worry about. But if Facebook succeeds, it threatens Apple’s entire business, and the future of Apple’s stellar growth.

-CultofMac, September 24, 2011 (via Dwight Silverman)

I agree that Facebook could rival Apple's iTunes as a mechanism for discovering and popularizing media stuff. But Facebook is just a middleman in the transactions -- all of the actual media content is sold by others like Spotify, Netflix and Hulu -- and I'm not sure the potpourri of providers can really rival Apple's ease of use, breadth of offerings and compatibility with the most popular mobile tablet.

I'd also love to read some behind-the-scenes reporting about what happened with Facebook and Apple over Ping, the horrid iTunes-based music social network. Did Apple drive too hard a bargain and miss out on the chance to connect with the most successful social network? Did Facebook have a last-minute change of heart?

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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