iTunes Ping and Facebook: The Smoking Screenshot

Since Apple announced its new social networking service for iTunes, Ping, there has been speculation as to why it doesn’t integrate with Facebook.

Kara Swisher of All Things Digital asked Steve Jobs about this after the event:

…he said Apple had indeed held talks with Facebook about a variety of unspecified partnerships related to Ping, but the discussions went nowhere.

The reason, according to Jobs: Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.”

The plot thickened when Cult of Mac’s Giles Turnbull spotted a mention of “Connecting to your Facebook account” on the Ping page at (which is still there at the time of writing). Then Dan Frommer of Silicon Alley Insider pointed out that a mention of connecting through Facebook appeared in Steve Jobs’ demo of the Ping UI, although it doesn’t appear in the same place on the release version.

As I was having a play this evening after setting up a Ping account, I went to the “People” screen… and look what I found:

Oops! 'Connect with Facebook' message on iTunes Ping's 'People' screen
View on flickr

So it looks very much as if Apple planned Facebook integration right until the last minute, and when it was pulled they didn’t do a very good job of removing mentions of it from either the web site or the application itself.

I was astonished myself at the lack of Facebook integration: I assumed it would be a given for something like this. Presumably one of two things will happen. Either Apple and Facebook will come to a rapprochement, at which point Apple can flick a switch and enable integration of the two networks; or Steve Jobs will treat Facebook the way he’s treated Adobe over Flash. Given his track record of standing firm on such matters, those who want Ping and Facebook integration had better hope that Facebook cracks first.

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