These are tumultuous times in the tech sector, with Facebook’s stock staggering about like a drunken sailor, Google coming under fire for its inept bungling of its own social network Google+, and even speculation that Apple’s iPhone simply isn’t as popular as it once was.
With cracks beginning to show in the once sterling veneer of these three tech giants, one might reasonably expect their next move to be enacting an ironclad law of the wild, live together or die alone. As laws of survival go, this one is fairly universal, and here we might expect to see each company invest in the common good of the tech market in hopes that such efforts would reap benefits for their own respective revenue streams. It’s a move Microsoft employed back in the ‘90s, and it happened to save the then struggling Apple from certain doom.
It is with this in mind that the words of Apple CEO Tim Cook this past week no doubt sent shivers down the collective spine of search engine giant Google, as Cook alluded to a deeper partnership forming between his company and the now struggling Facebook, a partnership that would provide both with substantial financial warmth…and would leave Google out in the cold.
There’s no question that Cook’s words at last week’s D10 Conference were both cleverly calculated and deviously subtle, as the ambiguous motivation behind his lavish praise for Facebook and his vague comments about an affinity with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have left the tech world to piece together the puzzle.
Part of the impetus behind such ambiguous comments may in fact be because Apple and Facebook have apparently struck some sort of partnership deal regarding the former’s upcoming iOS 6. Set for release next week, the next iteration of Apple’s in-house operating system is said to feature deep integration with the social network, allowing users better access to their network and easier navigation options.
Regarding the integration of Facebook, Cook had several unhelpful things to say, stating that in his mind Facebook is “a great company,” later adding that “We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them. Just stay tuned on this one.” [italics mine]
But will the partnership between Apple and Facebook stop there, or is this merely the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship between the two tech behemoths, one that would surely send Google reeling?
Like most tech rumours and speculation, there’s enough circumstantial evidence here to fill a crime drama marathon. First we have the news that Facebook is looking to make a foray into the mobile market, a place where it would have to pit itself against Apple. Instead of dooming itself to failure with a device that many will perceive as a glorified feature phone, why not simply have that phone be the next wildly popular iteration of the iPhone?
Second, with Facebook’s stock continuing to fall, perhaps Apple will see this as an once-in-a-lifetime strategic opportunity, using its huge cash reserves to capitalize on low investor confidence to grab the social network at a competitive price. In fact, Cook told investors that he considered Facebook to be the company that is most like Apple.
The benefits of such a merger would be astronomical for both companies, giving Facebook inroads into the mobile market while cementing Apple’s control over our digital lifestyle.