Apple’s 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.”
Facebook delves deeper into WordPress
The move will put Facebook widgets on more pages around the Web and will likely bring more content sharing to Facebook’s own platform. WordPress software is used to create 17 percent of all Web content, according to Facebook’s announcement, accounting for 600 million unique visitors a month. The New York Times’ website uses WordPress, for example.
Using the just-launched features, content creators can have new posts they publish with WordPress appear automatically in their Facebook timeline or company page. Without leaving the WordPress interface, authors can also add comments or tag friends when sharing their links.
A new feature will provide readers with personalized recommendations for further reading on the WordPress-powered website they are visiting, based on Facebook algorithms.
Although some Facebook functionality was already available in WordPress, the beefed up integration eliminates the need for publishers to insert code into their content. The features appear as lists of options that can be selected under Facebook settings and widgets settings.
The plugin will work for non-English and mobile content, according to WordPress.