This morning, Philip Elmer-DeWitt wondered if the lack of Facebook integration in the release build of OS X Mountain Lion is the result of a new rift between Apple and Facebook ala the Ping situation in 2010.
Jim Dalrymple was quick to point out something Elmer-DeWitt clearly missed:
Apple has said since WWDC that Facebook would be integrated with Mountain Lion in an update to be released this Fall. On it’s Web site, Apple was very clear that the feature would be “Coming Soon.”
Still, I was a bit confused when the review copy of Mountain Lion that Apple gave out did include Facebook integration. And the functionality seemed to work just fine, but Apple told me as well that the plan was still to release it in the fall. Why?
John Gruber and I chatted briefly about this on his Talk Show podcast earlier this week. My guess was that it may be a part of a Facebook/Apple agreement. Maybe it was even tied to iOS 6, which includes Facebook integration as well. Maybe Apple wasn’t allowed to push any integration until the fall (when iOS 6 will launch).
But Gruber noted that developers can download a version of Mountain Lion with Facebook integration as well from the Apple Developer site. That seems to indicate that it’s simply a work in progress and while the user-facing elements may be ready to go, Apple wants to make sure the more-important developer compatibles are ready as well.
This is more in line with what I had heard originally. Back in June, before WWDC, I reported that Facebook and Apple had finally reached an agreement to include Facebook in iOS. At the same time, I said that while Twitter was being baked into OS X Mountain Lion, Facebook would not be just yet. “Apple is going to take the Facebook integration one step at a time — which means iOS, for now,” is what I wrote.
So I was surprised at WWDC when Apple did quickly mention that Facebook integration was going to Mountain Lion, though (as Dalrymple remembers correctly) not until the fall.
As far as I can tell, the initial plan was not to include Facebook in Mountain Lion. But at the last minute, Apple decided they should. They announced it on stage, even though it wasn’t ready. Knowing this, they gave themselves some breathing room by announcing it would come in the fall with an update.
A month and a half later, they’ve made a lot of progress on the Facebook integration front, but again, the developer side is just as important. And work continues — to be completed, as originally stated, by the fall.
I believe it’s that simple.
Long story short, no, this isn’t a new rift between Apple and Facebook. Quite the opposite, actually. Apple made a last-minute call to make Facebook even more central to their overall strategy.
And so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Facebook is now said to be pouring a bunch of resources into improving their iOS experience. The relationship is strengthening, not deteriorating. Well, at least not until that Facebook Phone comes out.