Apple-Facebook Rift Opens Over Ping Social Network

Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about Ping, a new social network for music at a news conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) Paul Sakuma

In his early 20s, Apple's Steve Jobs became the face of the personal computer revolution, And in his early 20s, Mark Zuckerberg became the name most associated with the popularization of social networking.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about Ping, at a news conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010.
Paul Sakuma

So much for computer history nostalgia. It turns out that these two poster boys for their respective generations are having a difficult time finding a way to get along.

In the aftermath of this week's 's announcement by Apple that was entering social networking with the iTunes music social network Ping, the transom has been dominated by background stories of disagreements between Apple and Facebook. Miguel Helft posed the right question in his blog today: Why did Apple choose to build Ping "rather than, say, build services on top of Facebook, as other music sites have done."

That might have been the earlier intention. For users of iTunes software, Ping is designed to let them see what songs their friends are buying and where their favorite bands might next appear. On the surface, at least, the benefit of a connection to Facebook, the world's largest social network, seems obvious. But after his Wednesday keynote in San Francisco, when he announced Ping as well as a refresh of the iPod line, Jobs dropped a hint that disagreements with Facebook were to blame.

During the course of a walk through the press room, Jobs complained that Facebook had demanded "onerous" terms during discussions between the companies.

The next day, some programming interfaces designed to help Ping users find their Facebook friends got shut down suddenly. Facebook's only comment so far: ""We're working with Apple to resolve this issue. We've worked together successfully in the past, and we look forward to doing so in the future."

But Kara Swisher from AllThingsD, quoted unnamed sources recounting that "Apple went ahead with a plan to access the Facebook APIs freely, but Facebook blocked it since it violated its terms of service. When that happened, it seems Apple pulled the plug on the connection with Facebook friends."

The two companies reportedly are trying to hash things out. But with 12 million songs and 250,000 apps on the iTunes store, Ping's not starting from scratch. The intriguing question is how Apple's plans for building out that social network will develop - with or without Facebook.

To be continued.

  • Charles Cooper On Twitter»

    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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