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The Case For Apple Buying Facebook 255

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the large-fortunes dept.
The article makes the case that Jobs has been hinting that he wants to actually spend some of the $51 billion Apple has been sitting on, and that Facebook is a likely candidate. Considering how thin the Ping social network is, and the integration issues the two companies have had, there are some good reasons for such a deal. And a heck of a lot of reasons why not.
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The Case For Apple Buying Facebook

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  • Yep.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Palmsie (1550787) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:40PM (#33953542)
    Sounds like its time to find a new social media website.
    • Re:Yep.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by theaveng (1243528) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:44PM (#33953610)

      So negative!

      Sounds like a good plan to me, and maybe Apple would have the know-how to stop all these privacy leaks.

      • Re:Yep.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:51PM (#33953696)
        What makes you think Apple is interested in your privacy? Apple is interested in money, and when it comes to Facebook, you are the product, not the customer.
        • What makes you think Apple is interested in your privacy? Apple is interested in money,

          Indeed. For example, Apple likes to require credit card info for iTunes store membership, even before you agree to buy something from them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            What makes you think Apple is interested in your privacy? Apple is interested in money,

            Indeed. For example, Apple likes to require credit card info for iTunes store membership, even before you agree to buy something from them.

            You can sign up for an iTunes account by choosing the "no payment method" option. If you decide to buy something, you can buy an iTunes card at a convenience store, use paypal or use a prepaid credit card. You don't need to use your own address with a prepaid card, just a valid one.

            • by inanet (1033718)

              actually here in NZ itunes is much more misleading, they have two radio buttons "visa" and "mastercard" once you select one, you can't de-select it, but if you don't select either you can continue on.

              I'm usually fairly clued up, but even this had me stumped, especially as thats not how radio buttons "should work"

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tenco (773732)

          What makes you think Apple is interested in your privacy?

          Privacy sells.

    • by dattaway (3088) *

      I thought slashdot was the only social website...

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      Sounds like its time to find a new social media website.

      Why?

    • Sounds like its time to find a new social media website.

      With all the privacy-disregarding crap that Facebook has put you through over the years, you're going to jump ship over a potential Apple buyout?!? The mind - it boggles.

    • by Ethanol (176321)

      Sounds like its time to find a new social media website.

      A friend of mine said to me a while back: "I've decided I'm going to skip Facebook, and then skip the thing that comes after Facebook, and join the one that comes after that."

      There is much wisdom in her plan.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shark (78448)

      My initial thought was: At last, they might even screw it up badly enough that people would give up on that terrible, soon-to-beat-TV-in-IQ-sucking-potential idea. Stuff like requiring you to install iTunes to post or some other typical Apple stroke of genius.

      Then my brain started working again and I realized that Facebooks success is precisely the same as Apples of late: it relies on people being so absorbed in their own image that they become oblivious to all the horrors lurking beneath shiny, polished

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Your post reminds me of people around my age who are snobs about hipsters and talk about how annoying hipsters are, only to be so focused on the superficialities they associate with hipsters that they essentially are the new hipsters.

        In case you don't understand: I'm saying you're a self-absorbed, pretentious, yet dumbed-down, computer person.
  • Facebook won't sell for 50b

    • by Trent Hawkins (1093109) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:49PM (#33953664)
      100 billion dollars [raise pinkie to lip]
    • I'm sure the guy that ran MySpace thought the same thing in 2006... though honestly I don't see Apple bothering w/ Facebook - it's not even near any of Apple's core competencies.

      (I mean, hell - I think it would massively funny for Apple to buy Dell, just for the pleasure of firing Michael Dell and have of India. Or maybe wait a couple of years and buy Microsoft outright. OTOH, I doubt that either of those would serve Apple's purposes, ne?)

      • "though honestly I don't see Apple bothering w/ Facebook - it's not even near any of Apple's core competencies."

        Oh no? Why did they try to setup their own social network with me.com and iChat then?

        I think Apple would LOVE to own facebook. Combine that with Facetime, and they have not only caught up with (probably overtaken) msn, but are the next Skype too.

        • I don't think so. Facebook is the same pet rock fad as MySpace. Something will eclipse it, as Zuckerberg et al don't get the privacy message. Once people start feeling secure again, a more useful site that has a better economic model will be the next pet rock. Apple only markets their own pet rocks.

          • by BagOBones (574735)

            Security matters to some.. however the draw of Social Sites is which of your friends are there... If you have a fairly large circle of friends and family you will use what ever the most of them use because it makes sense.. It is next to impossible to move everyone to something new unless they already want to.

          • Doubt it. Facebook has the great unwashed public signed up; more IT-illiterate people than I've seen on ANY site before. Those people are as likely to switch to diaspora or something, as the pensioners with IE6 are to switch to firefox because en masse because it's more standards-compliant.

        • by antek9 (305362)
          Yah, Android-paranoid Facebooktime (only available on 3.5inch and 10inch screens, but never, ever on 7inch)!
  • Not that stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:40PM (#33953546)
    Apple tends to buy things that will make them money. I really doubt Facebook would ever make any money for Apple. (Or anyone for that matter.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by The MAZZTer (911996)
      Are you sure? Looks valuable to me... [dilbert.com]
    • Re:Not that stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:46PM (#33953624)
      They could use it to promote their other stuff. For example, suppose all mobile devices that weren't iPhones had somewhat flaky Facebook integration, but iPhones "just worked" with Facebook. Even better, suppose they set up some odd licensing conditions, making it hard for competitors people to mention Facebook in their mobile adverts.

      Knowing their abilities with marketing, they could easily convince people that it was the only good way to use Facebook on the go, especially since it would tie in nicely with their existing "you are a cool person with a large social circle" branding.
      • ... suppose all mobile devices that weren't iPhones had somewhat flaky Facebook integration, but iPhones "just worked" with Facebook.

        But "just working" with Facebook is itself a bug.

      • Re:Not that stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mark72005 (1233572) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:52PM (#33953720)
        the Facebook for iPhone app is pretty crappy right now. You can't do much with it.

        There's a little incongruency though, in that because the iPhone has a real web browser, it's a lot better to just go to the full website (full functionality).

        the Facebook for iPhone app is good for browsing quickly while on the go, but if you want to actually do anything beyond look at a status, a bookmark to the .com is much better.
        • by ckaminski (82854)
          Except all the browsers I've tried so far (Android and iPhone) fail on browsing the popup selectors. Anything with an embedded scrollbar doesn't work right.

          Haven't tried with iOS 4 yet, maybe this defect has been fixed.
        • by Xtravar (725372)

          Uh? The Facebook app for the iPhone is renowned as one of the better apps out there. Perhaps you are trying to do something that doesn't need to be done remotely on a phone. The Android version could use some work, though.

      • Re:Not that stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:59PM (#33953852)
        ...Except for the fact that Facebook has an elevated self-worth at the moment. Social networks really only have a lifespan of a few years before they are no longer used by the masses.

        If Apple wanted to buy Facebook, they should have done it a few years ago, or perhaps a few years in the future. If Apple buys it now, they have a very limited amount of time before the feature is still a feature.

        FB has very little IP, the only thing they have is users and brand recognition but MySpace also had that but essentially lost it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by statusbar (314703)

          That was before Farmville.

          I know people who own farms who spend just as much time on Farmville as they do working on their real farms.

          --jeffk++

          • Re:Not that stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

            by antek9 (305362) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @06:29PM (#33954866)
            Problem with that is: Farmville (like a lot of games on FB) is a flash game, and Flash would have to go if FB would become an Apple asset. And, while I know that "there's an app for that" (TM), it doesn't seem likely that Steve could convince Zynga to go all HTML5 just for the fun of it. Well, not against the Google millions already poured inside Zynga, that is...
          • I spend just as much time on Farmville as I do on my actual farm. None. I have neither a farm nor Farmville. I'd wager that's true of most people.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by RapmasterT (787426)

          ...Except for the fact that Facebook has an elevated self-worth at the moment. Social networks really only have a lifespan of a few years before they are no longer used by the masses.

          What are you talking about? You're talking like some of the biggest Internet companies in the world are just passing fads? That millions of users will just dry up and blow away? where are they going to go? Take all the trouble of learning some NEW website (which you probably don't' think will last long). Fact is dotcom acquisitions are solid investments for larger traditional companies, I just read that in an article from AOL-Time Warner. (see what I did there?)

        • FB has very little IP, the only thing they have is users and brand recognition but MySpace also had that but essentially lost it.

          MySpace never achieved the network-effect numbers that Facebook has. MySpace is proud of being terribly hard to use and ugly. Facebook doesn't always succeed but they are easy enough for female family members to figure out (and all their friends too).

          It's simply not a valid comparison.

      • by Americano (920576)

        existing "you are a cool person with a large social circle" branding

        Really? Which advertisement or marketing campaign talks about how only cool people with lots of friends own Apple products? I must've missed it.

    • Agreed. I don't see how this would ever pay itself back.

      I know Facebook is valuable because of the sheer volume of information about individuals in contains and the high site traffic, but I don't see how the value could ever be repaid with advertising and product cross-promotion.
    • by imgod2u (812837)

      Would that be why they just released Facebook-for-music on iTunes?

  • Apps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Since all of /. knows how tight Apple is with its apps, perhaps an Apple acquisition of facebook would force the latter to get rid of all the stupid apps present therein...

    One could hope.

  • Sounds Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:43PM (#33953590)
    Let Microsoft buy Adobe, then let Apple buy Facebook. That way, they're all in one place when we nuke them from orbit.
  • simple... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syngularyx (1070768) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:49PM (#33953662)
    Usually Apple buys small, "cheap" and useful companies and Facebook doesn't belong to any of these categories.
  • Shelf Life (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:50PM (#33953670) Homepage

    I don't think Jobs is dumb enough to buy Facebook.

    Right now it's the darling of the social internet, but a few years ago that title belonged to MySpace. Remember MySpace?

    These sites don't have a very long shelf life. They're popular for a few years, and then they die off when the next, newest popular social media site takes off.

    • Agreed. Jobs may be a lot of things but he is not that stupid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

      While I agree with the concept, changes in social media dominance might not come so quickly.

      Before Google came along, a new search engine became dominant every few years. With Google, the situation seems to have stabilized, Bing took a bite, but they don't seem to be going further with the momentum.

      MySpace (2003) is only 1 year older than Facebook (2004). Friendster was founded in 2002, the early "baby" years were tumultuous, but the landscape seems to have matured such that significant changes are slower

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:50PM (#33953672) Homepage Journal
    So there are a million reasons this would be a terrible idea, but there is one potential benefit: Facebook could finally receive the badly needed usability revamp that it has needed for years now. If there's one company that knows how to make interfaces, it's Apple, and the confusing mess that is Facebook is long long overdue for a major reworking.
    • by ckaminski (82854)
      Aside from some data consistency issues (related to the whole BigTable nonsense) - I find Facebooks UI pretty damn easy. A UI refresh is one thing they DON'T need, IMHO.
      • by jandrese (485)
        What about the difference between the two news feeds? Setting up permissions? Groups? Hell, even navigating the profile is a pain in the rear. There's a lot on Facebook that needs fixing.

        Also, Jobs could come in and say "Because we want to support the iOS devices, no Flash will be allowed on Facebook anymore". That would be a massive improvement right off the bat. At the very least it would shut down Farmville for awhile.
        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          Also, Jobs could come in and say "Because we want to support the iOS devices, no Flash will be allowed on Facebook anymore". That would be a massive improvement right off the bat. At the very least it would shut down Farmville for awhile.

          No it wouldn't [apple.com]

      • by emt377 (610337)

        Aside from some data consistency issues (related to the whole BigTable nonsense) - I find Facebooks UI pretty damn easy. A UI refresh is one thing they DON'T need, IMHO.

        Too many different settings and options, spread over too many different places - fairly typical implementation-driven UI design (rather than UI design-driven implementation). The feed itself is pretty good, though made overly complicated sometimes - for instance, why is there a separate 'latest"? basically it seems to be some sort of manual cache refresh, and why would it think I want anything other than the latest?! What is "not latest"? The supporting facilities, like photo albums, are also pretty mess

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are kidding right? I've been trying for years to figure out how to properly add new songs without duplicating anything to my iTunes collection that i didn't buy from iTunes. Wanna try and explain to my dad over the phone how to synchronize his itouch, I'll be glad to give you his number I can assure you he's pretty computer savoy and won't ask any stupid questions.

      Just because there is only one button that does anything in an Apple world doesn't mean they are good at making software. It simply means

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bogtha (906264)

      If there's one company that knows how to make interfaces, it's Apple

      Sadly, their expertise in software doesn't seem to extend to web interfaces. Their developer portal for iOS development is shockingly bad and I've run across a number of cross-browser problems and missing functionality. iTunes Connect is even worse - I reported a major data loss bug to them that was triggered by using tabs, and their solution was "don't use tabs". Quite honestly Facebook and Apple are right down there at joint bottom

      • by codepunk (167897)

        That is exactly the first thing that came to my mind also, I love apple products and their os. However, when
        it comes to web apps they suck horribly bad.

    • and the confusing mess that is Facebook is long long overdue for a major reworking.

      They've been "reworking" it too often, they need to either fix it or stop dicking around with it altogether, they keep hiding things behind different menus, and surprisingly, not the features you'd expect them to try to hide like "privacy controls." They seem to have recently moved their "create event" option on the iphone interface for example, I don't know yet where they moved it -to-, but it isn't where it used to be, which was under "events."

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      Given that the iWork suite is no better than Office I don't see why Facebook would necessarily be improved.

      Apple's GUIs are elegant only when they limit functionality.

  • by iinlane (948356) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:53PM (#33953738)
    Buy Dell and close it down. Just to make Michael Dell eat his words.
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:53PM (#33953740)

    Once upon a time, there was this amazing company called Netscape. It was so fantastic that this other company called AOL bought it for over $4 billion.

    Later on, there was this amazing company called AOL. It was so fantastic that this other company called Time Warner believed it was valued it at something like a quarter trillion dollars, so merged with it.

    Later on, there was this amazing company called Facebook...

  • Doubt it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macwhizkid (864124) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:54PM (#33953758)

    Strategic partnership, sure, but outright purchase? No way. Sure, it's temping to consider the ways Facebook could interface with iOS, but Facebook is valued somewhere in the neighborhood of $30-35B, and Apple only has $50B cash on hand. Facebook is too expensive for what it is -- a neatly designed hack for people to make their own web pages and connect with others. The value of the company lies in the number of active accounts, not the technology itself. And for Apple, a technology company which already has an accomplished marketing department and more publicity than it can ever use, the purchase just doesn't have enough value.

    Besides, Facebook has already displaced Google in the areas the two compete in. There would be nothing to add to that particular rat race, but the danger that Google could focus on a single enemy instead of several. Yhe only reason to buy a company is to harness the potential innovation and future success when integrated with your own. Buying a fully-fledge corporation relying on something as fickle as consumer taste is a terrible idea.

    • The only reason to buy a company is to harness the potential innovation and future success when integrated with your own.

      And to neutralize a competitor (see google and youtube), but facebook doesn't compete with apple.

    • by emt377 (610337)

      Facebook is too expensive for what it is -- a neatly designed hack for people to make their own web pages and connect with others.

      I don't think you have a good grasp of what it is. It's more like slashdot, except scoped to people you know and unmoderated so anyone can post stuff. The moderation consists in your ability to ignore people. There may be some sort of web page creation feature, but I doubt it - you'd create a site somewhere else and post a link to it. There are also private messages, and personal (but publicly visible) messages.

      A lot of the terminology is stupid - like "friends" and "wall" (personal but public messages)

  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @04:57PM (#33953812) Homepage

    It's ingenious! How could it not work?

    Just like when AOL bought Llamasoft. No, you know what would be a better example? When Fox bought MySpace. That worked out well, right?

    This is moronic. This is "I need column inches, and Apple has money and gets pageviews, and Facebook gets page views, so I'll write a column..." nonsense.

    What would Apple get out of this? A big messy architecture (in maintaining all those servers, integrating OS X with FB)? A giant target on it's back for even more privacy lawsuits? I don't see any value to Apple in buying Facebook. It would make a ton more sense to just buy up some good ISVs or more hardware companies to help design their products in house.

  • I guess not now that Apple comes on board. Maybe they'll have an open-apple function instead...
  • by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage AT praecantator DOT com> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:22PM (#33954120) Homepage

    They could take half of that cash and buy Yahoo, Adobe, and Novell. Why mess with Facebook?

    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:58PM (#33954560) Journal

      Adobe makes some sense, but not really overall, too much on the PC and no niche for mass consumer sales.
      Yahoo doesn't make sense, unless Apple starts viewing itself like Google, and it shouldn't do that.
      Novell is the most interesting, if only so they can compete with Microsoft's AD. But again, that ultimately doesn't make sense.

      Apple's success of late has been in the consumer device market. Along those lines, buying Nintendo makes much much more sense. The Wii is a good Apple like product, simple device that is popular with all but the hardcore Xbox boys. Xbox and PS3 are owned by large corps and likely not on the market (assuming Nitendo is). Nintendo would make an awesome media server for a house. Hell with Netflix Channel now running it freakin feels like an iPhone.

      The only other thing I would think Apple would be aiming for would be content delivery channels (Cable/SatTV), or content that is delivered (Netflix).

  • by papasui (567265) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:28PM (#33954204) Homepage
    Both my wife and myself have deleted our facebook accounts. Last time I was in that situation it was with Myspace. Remember Myspace?
  • Facebook is the advertising industry's darling because it allows them to do super accurate and granular ad targeting. iAds not performing as well as expected? Build an integrated ad platform with iAds, iOS, and Facebook. That said, can Apple buy Facebook pre-IPO?

  • Facebook staff have been amazed to discover that when Facebook passes users' complete details to application developers and advertisers, some of the partner companies might accidentally let slip the information in some manner [newstechnica.com].

    "We are appalled at this information leak," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as he took a break from his personal RSS feed of drunk women's tits posted to his service. "But I can assure you that we have sternly suggested to everyone involved that they take somewhat greater care not to get caught, and maintain a serious demeanor when rolling around in the great big pit filled with money in their basement."

    "I'm horrified and outraged," said office worker Brenda Busybody, 43 (IQ), "that stuff I put on the Internet is on the Internet. It violates everything I expect. I want privacy when I'm calling my boss a useless fuckstick to the entire world, all my coworkers and my boss himself. And when I'm playing a bit of FarmVille before we nick off down the pub."

    Privacy advocates are working on Diaspora, a security-enhanced social network so far populated by Linux users who cryptographically sign every update about which episode of Babylon 5 they just finished watching alone in their parents' basement. "START PGP KEY BLOCK!" said open source software advocate Hiram Nerdboy, 17. "WE WILL PROTECT YOUR FREEDOMS!" The next version of Diaspora will allow users to list more than three friends, should there be any demand whatsoever for such a feature.

    Facebook works on the now-standard "Web 2.0" business model: 1. Brutally sodomise the personal privacy of anyone who comes within a mile of your service and say "hey baby, I'm sorry" every time you're busted. 2. Sell ads.

  • by Rix (54095) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @06:02PM (#33954592)
    • You could only view it on Safari
    • Only iPhones would have a mobile client
    • You'd have to update your status through iTunes
    • It would cost $99/year
    • You could only access it through AT&T's ISP
    • If you switched computers, all your photos would have to be reuploaded
    • You'd have to sign an NDA
  • If Apple buys Facebook, Microsoft will try to create their own Facebook in response. It's worth doing just to see how laughably bad Microsoft's Facebook ripoff would be.

  • I don't know if Nintendo is buyable, but it seems like a good fit: complementary products, lots of possible synergies, same-ish markets.

  • Even if Apple spends only $1b on it, how do they intend to make it worth the money?
  • by cyberidian (1917584) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @07:05PM (#33955200)
    Is Facebook even looking for a buyer? It hasnt even gone IPO yet because they want keep control of their vision. If that is the case, it doesnt make sense to sell it to Apple whatever they are offering. I think Apple buying Facebook would be a mistake for the users and would ruin the Facebook experience. I like that they are a privately held company and not IPO, and you got to be impresssed by a kid that figured out the entepreneurial game before 20. I think all these complaints about Facebook's privacy are greatly exaggerated. I mean to begin with, you don't have to post anything at all, and you can restrict your page to your friends. Also the complaints about the targeted ads are over the top. Aren't most users today already great at ignoring ads anyways? I can't remember a single ad on Facebook ever because I never even look at them even though I use the site daily. I think most of the "privacy" concerns are either from people overly concerned about their already non-existent privacy, or news and media agencies worried that Facebook style sites will eclipse their current media & news offering, or people, especially politicians, creating scare stories to frighten other people into thinking there is a problem that must be solved. Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe in developers understanding and implementing proper IT security in general, but seriously how many people have lost "private" information on Facebook that was not already public information on the Internet or in phone books. Perhaps a public "Don't be Stupid on the Internet" campaign is in order these days, but I don't think it is neccessary to attack Facebook with exaggerated accusations. The main reason that is happening is everyone is jealous of its success.
  • Idle Speculation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FiloEleven (602040) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @07:47PM (#33955570)

    This sort of idle speculation belongs in idle, don't you think?

    "There are some good reasons for Apple to buy Facebook. And lots of reasons not to. They probably won't, but, hey, you're reading this, aren't you?"

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @08:22PM (#33955838) Journal

    Apple's biggest acquisition ever was buying NeXT for around $400M. Since then, the companies they've bought have been strategic additions that complemented existing lines of business. Acquiring a company is far more expensive than just the cash you fork over. There's the cost of integrating operations, the amount of time and attention required from the senior management, and of course the opportunity cost, because there are plenty of other things you could be doing with that money.

    -jcr

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