Apple's Facebook integration a boon for both, analysts say

Facebook could use some good news after IPO debacle. Will it come from Apple?

Apple announcement that it's integrating Facebook into its operating system software should be welcome news for a social network that's taken a lot of hits in recent weeks.

"Facebook is a company that could use some good news or could, at the very least, use a break from the seemingly non-stop drumbeat of dismal press," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "This isn't going to be any sort of miracle for Facebook, but it is a nice feature. And it's [a change from] the 'Facebook Cavalcade of Crappy News' headlines."

Apple announced at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference this week that Facebook will be integrated into the iOS software that runs the iPhone and iPad, as well as into the latest OS X version, code-named Mountain Lion.

Apple said the integration of Facebook into its operating systems will enable users to easily and seamlessly post photos, videos and updates to their Facebook accounts. The updates will let users update their Facebook status by talking to their phones, Apple added.

The integration puts Facebook at the fingertips of Apple device users without having to use the social network's own apps, which many experts call mediocre at best.

While Apple's move doesn't offer an answer to Facebook's problem of figuring out how to make money from mobile users, it may increase the time that millions of users spend on the site when they are on the go.

"Apple caters to the masses and Facebook is the social media hub for the masses," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy.

"This sounds positive for Facebook, which needs any kind of win. This will undoubtedly increase Facebook interaction but it still doesn't address the mobile monetization issue. And until Facebook figures this out, not much else matters," he added.

As for Apple, offering integration with a wildly popular social network is a good way to keep users from drifting to other platforms, noted Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Enderle Group.

"In general, this is a nice feature which should help prevent customer moves to Android or Windows Phone," he added. "It showcases their increased advantage in speech in what is a speech optimized device and perhaps anticipates the long-rumored smaller iPhone, where text entry would be more difficult."

Olds agreed that the integration is as good for Apple as it is for Facebook.

"There are almost a billion Facebook users. That's a big, big number, even for Apple," Olds said. "Down the road, there might be a mechanism where Facebook users can buy and view Apple content via the Facebook interface with friends. So there's a lot of potential synergy here."

He added that it's wise not to forget the adage, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'

"Both companies are arrayed against Google on several fronts," said Olds. "A combined effort, or at least a loose relationship, helps both."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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