Whether you realize it or not, Apple is building a full featured social network that will serve as an incredibly viable Facebook competitor once all is said and done. Yes they have released Ping and everyone realizes that it’s pretty weak in its current iteration, but it will get better.
What people are overlooking is that Game Center was also released yesterday. It allows me to invite friends via my phone’s address book, create status updates and invite friends to compete against me with games that we both have. If I don’t have a game a friend has, it shows me the name and price of the game so I can purchase it.
Let’s compare Facebook to Apple. Facebook has 500 million potential people to connect with and makes almost $1bill selling ads. Facebook realizes that gaming is a great way to keep people using the site and create a revenue stream with Facebook credits to buy in game items. So Facebook has the social graph but lacks in a strong development community and users credit cards. Apple has tens of millions of devices in people’s hands and 160 million people with Apple ID’s who are already familiar and comfortable with purchasing through Apple’s ecosystem(Apple has paid $1bill developers through app sales). They just turned on Ping and Game Center to begin building their own social graph that relates to music and games that will inevitably gravitate towards TV, movies and books as well. Apple has the hardware, the development community and users credit cards, but lacks a strong social graph.
Seems to me Apple can easily create the social graph as people inherently have the desire to share music and games with friends. If they move forward with giving MobileMe away for free(rumor), they’ll have the beginnings of the rest of the package. Throw iChat and Facetime in the mix and we also have text/video chatting capabilities.
What am I missing?