Did Steve Jobs pull Facebook support for Ping, Apple's new music-focused social networking service, at the last second? Ping launched yesterday without support for Facebook, the world's most popular social networking service.
This is a bummer because being able to import friends from Facebook — and being able to export Ping activity to Facebook — would make Ping a lot more useful for many people.
Why no Facebook?
Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to," Apple CEO Steve Jobs told All Things D's Kara Swisher yesterday, after Jobs announced Ping at an event in San Francisco.
Swisher writes, "Jobs did not elaborate on those troublesome terms and also would not say if Ping would incorporate Facebook Connect–which would make it much easier to find friends to share music with." She adds, "'We could, I guess,' he shrugged."
But Apple's Ping screenshots from the keynote suggest Apple DID at one point build Facebook into Ping — at least into prototypes, or mockups, or whatever screenshots Apple would use during a keynote. So perhaps Apple yanked the feature at the last second as a negotiating tactic, to pressure Facebook into offering better terms?
Take a look at this screenshot of the video and live demo from Apple's event yesterday on the left, versus the one on the right, which is from the released version of Ping in iTunes 10. During the keynote, the Ping window said, "You can also invite your friends from Facebook of by email." But now, live in iTunes, it just says "You can also invite your friends by email."
It's possible that Facebook was just in the screenshot by mistake, or that Apple used a very old version of Ping for its demo. But Steve Jobs is a notorious perfectionist, and if Facebook were removed from the software ages ago, this seems like something he'd make sure was fixed. (Note that he didn't refer to Facebook by name during his speech, or demo any Facebook-related features, it was only written in the screenshot and demo.)
So did Apple and Facebook have a disagreement at the last minute, leading Apple to yank the feature? Is this a negotiating tactic? Or was this screenshot an honest error or an old mockup?
Gizmodo's Update: I just checked a screenshot I took last night, right after the Ping service went up and Facebook was live, on the service. It was stripped out after Ping went live to users, not just before iTunes 10 launched.