If Apple or Facebook ruled the world, separately, rather than in parallel as the tech giants arguably do today, whose team would you be on? Because that question may just be one we all have to ask, and pretty soon too. What exactly led to the feud, and what does it mean for both Apple and Facebook users?
Apple and Facebook, or rather their CEO’s—Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg—have been in a very public spat since the end of 2020. Well in truth, since as far back as 2018, although the years in between have been somewhat more ‘amiable’. The drama first became obvious in an interview during Facebook’s notorious Cambridge Analytical scandal, when Cook was asked how he would lead Apple if it were to face a similar crisis, to which Cook responded by batting the possibility away completely and saying his own company would never have found itself in such a jam. Zuckerberg shot back, and said Cook’s comments were “extremely glib” and “not at all aligned with the truth”. Behind Facebook’s closed doors, he was even harsher, “We need to inflict pain” he told his team, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal. Feisty, and it gets worse.
In January 2021 during Facebook’s earning call, Zuckerberg said that Apple will only grow into a bigger threat to the social media company and accused the opposition of using its platforms to interfere with how Facebook operates—specifically how it will affect the advertising industry, which Facebook relies heavily on.
Now, Apple is dialing up its pro-privacy stance with its intention to release an iOS and iPadOS feature that will require apps and data companies, such as Facebook, to ask for users’ permission before tracking them across other sites and websites. Cook tweeted that Apple simply wants to give users a choice about whether they wish to be tracked or not.
According to MacRumous, Facebook argued that Apple’s move was actually “about profit”, and that it will leave apps and websites with no choice but to charge subscription fees or add in-app purchases to make their ends meet, which in turn leads to an increased App Store revenue. Obviously, the tech giants have a dueling vision when it comes to the future of the internet, which is fundamentally what’s at stake here.
When looking at the two CEO’s on a personal level, Zuckerberg built Facebook on the concept of radical openness and global connectivity. Cook, on the other hand, is a deeply private man who climbed the Apple ladder as a specialist in supply chain logistics.
Apple in a sense has taken the role of the ‘protector of privacy’, and Facebook has become more of the support ‘small businesses enabler’, but all in all, that’s Facebook’s most humanitarian argument, which threatens its own existence. Facebook wants to monetise every possible device, and Apple wants every possible user to be holding their hardware. The market in which their share (us) will effectively, in the long run, have to choose between two similar dominators if the tech giant’s spew isn’t resolved. One product needs the other, but have incrementally different values, which may lead them to create their own version of the other’s product. This looks like it’s already starting.
Facebook is currently building a smart watch that looks an awful lot like Apple’s, and hopes to release it by 2022. The watch will allow users to send and receive messages using Facebook’s services. According to a report from The Information, “Facebook’s planned foray into smartwatches would inch the company further toward CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s aim of controlling the next computing platforms after smartphones.”
The report claims that the wearable technology will have its own cellular connection too, which will allow it to work independently of smartphone tethering. Initially it will run Android, but Facebook apparently is working on its own operating system in the longer run.
Over all, Facebook and Apple could realistically represent two very different kinds of consumer personalities, making the iOS vs Android conversation a little more serious. What I hope is that these two potentially separate platforms will not lead to further segregation in the literal conversations consumers potentially might have on their devices of either kind. I highly doubt that one will out rule the other, Facebook and Apple will continue, but I also can’t help but think—is their feud cracking open a previously impossible to access gap in the market? Do we, when thought of as the data they’re arguing over, have any say in it?
Not a whole lot of ideas, or information for that matter, are exclusive. Clubhouse, the app that bases its unique selling point upon ‘exclusivity’, is about to meet its match—the very app that is free and open to all, Facebook. Opposites attract, obviously, but will this be a fatal attraction for Clubhouse?
Facebook is now setting its sights on social audio, basically—it’s cloning Clubhouse, which is the invite only social audio app that launched up in 2020. Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, appeared on the app not so long ago, 4 February, which surprisingly surprised Clubhouse users.
Facebook is renowned for its idea borrowing from competitors, such as the inspiration from Snapchat stories being implemented onto the Facebook-owned app Instagram, then Instagram Reels launched, right after TikTok came along. Facebook Rooms followed the video chatting app Zoom. You get the gist. So when Clubhouse news started to wave through social media platforms, Zuckerberg obviously had to check it out. He participated in a room to talk about the future of augmented and virtual reality. Or pitched up for a little primary research, that’s all.
In case you were wondering, according to a transcription from the venture capitalist John Constine, the Facebook CEO’s opinion on the topic was that “We should be teleporting, not transporting, ourselves.”
Anyway, until our childhood fantasies get proved to be a possibility, let’s focus on what might be happening in the new future: The New York Times has reported that the company is working on a Facebook version of Clubhouse, and stated that the product is in “the early stages of development.”
Apparently, Zuckerberg has already been showing an interest in audio communication forms previously, and now, having had a little peek into the first of its form, Facebook executives have ordered employees to create a similar product. This information comes from anonymous chatterboxes who, although unauthorised to do so, spoke to the publication. They also told The New York Times that Facebook’s new project is under a code name. Exciting!
Before anyone starts shouting ‘copycat’ into Facebook’s ear, Emilie Haskell, spokesperson for the app backed it up by saying that “We’ve been connecting people through audio and video technologies for many years and are always exploring new ways to improve that experience for people.” I’ll give them that.
Clubhouse is still in its beta version, which means it’s still in a testing stage before being released wider. After being invited, and signing up to the app, users can create rooms that are dedicated to different topics. Instead of video or text, it’s just audio—think ‘live podcast’. The Clubhouse clientele is a bit of a celebrity hot house currently, which in a way has paid toward its success so far.
Elon Musk tweeted that he planned to have a conversation with rapper Kanye West, subject to be announced—but we can’t help but hear murmurs of a Musk-West 2024 campaign policy proposal, can you? Let’s just say, Clubhouse is having important conversations without the rest of us, right before our ears. So with Facebook and its slightly more everybody and anybody clientele, will this be different? Or, will it quicken Clubhouse’s pace to open up its exclusive app?
Facebook isn’t the only big dog gunning for a piece of the pie, because Twitter is currently testing a product called Spaces, that offers a similar audio chat function, but is also in beta at the moment. According to TechCrunch, its team acquired the social podcasting company Breaker, seemingly for its expertise on what could be the new social audio era. The American entrepreneur Mark Cuban is also ticking away at the creation of another live audio app called Fireside, which The Verge reported on in the first week of February 2021. Its estimated launch will be in 2021.
Clearly, tech has spotted yet another gap in the social media market, with the rise in podcast consumption over the last few years—the potential demand for development could be seen as inevitable. It’s safe to say that we should all expect a scramble of new and old tech companies alike to be jumping on the trend before it moves on, and personally I’m looking forward to a bit of live (although likely to still be played back in my own time) and uncensored listening in the very near future.