Facebook App Center has launched today and some are reporting that Apple should be welcoming the move. It’s true that there are some great benefits to Apple. It will drive people to download more apps through social recommendations. Apple have demonstrated they don’t do social well, so Facebook helping them seems like a smart partnership.
But it doesn’t hurt Apple, until it does. It starts a risky precedent for Apple when people start using Facebook’s store front for app discovery instead of the App Store.
Facebook are slowly and strategically building a mobile platform. They are attempting to replace native iOS apps, first Messenger and then with Camera. Now they are attempting to displace the App Store with their own discovery platform.
Make no mistake about it, this is dangerous territory for Apple. We are seeing Facebook build a mobile platform in front of our eyes.
This is Facebook’s audacious move to unseat Apple as the platform of choice for mobile users. Once people are used to thinking about Facebook as a platform for apps, there is nothing to stop them from launching their own native mobile platform. On their own hardware.
There has been much speculation that Facebook are already working on their own phone. Zuckerberg wants world domination, he doesn’t want Facebook to be limited to a single app on other people’s platforms.
However Facebook can’t just launch a mobile platform overnight and expect users to switch from iOS or Android in droves. They need to gradually educate users, and they are doing so by launching their own native app replacements and store front.
Once there is a critical mass of people using these products, and people are choosing to use Facebook as an app platform, they will have a far greater chance of success in launching their own hardware. A fighting chance to supplant iOS as the mobile platform of choice.
This has happened to Apple before.
When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he was proud to announce Google as a close partner. Maps integration, Youtube and Gmail, Google were heavily baked into the operating system.
Here is Steve Jobs introducing then Google CEO Eric Schmidt on stage at the iPhone keynote in 2007:
It’s the Internet in your pocket for the first time ever. Now, you can’t really think about the Internet, of course, without thinking about Google, right? And for Google, what we have on our phone, working with them is of course Google search, we have that built right into the browser. Just type what you want, hit Google and you’re off. And Google Maps. We’ve been working very closely with them to make this all happen. We’re thrilled with the result.
Next week Apple are holding their Worldwide Developer Conference WWDC, where they are rumoured to announce deep integration of Facebook into iOS.
Is history about to repeat itself?