On the Assumption that a Pundit Knows What Apple “Needs”

Mike Elgan wrote a lengthy post for Cult of Mac on Saturday that argues: Facebook is now a major threat to Apple. Elgan sees Facebook’s move towards Movies and Music as a major threat to Apple’s core business:

Facebook is now more directly threatening to Apple’s business model than Microsoft, Google and Sony combined.

That’s a load of crap. Elgan is assuming that Apple’s core business is content (music and movies), when in reality their core business is hardware — supplemented by software, which in turn is supplemented by content.


Apple isn’t so much a consumer electronics company as it is a media platform. Apple’s success in the last 10 years has all been about changing how people create and consume media and content.

If Apple is a media company, then it is a small one. Apple is very much a consumer electronics company, to say otherwise is flat out wrong. I agree that Apple’s success has hinged on shaping the way people consume content, but how does one access Facebook?

Elgan, again:

Either Facebook will succeed as a “primary entertainment hub,” or it will fail. If it fails, then Apple has nothing to worry about. But if Facebook succeeds, it threatens Apple’s entire business, and the future of Apple’s stellar growth.

Even if Facebook’s new initiatives are a massive hit, Apple still wins because Facebook doesn’t have or sell:

  • Computers
  • Operating Systems
  • Cell phones
  • iPods
  • Tablets

Take those three things away from Apple and you have trouble, but Apple taking a hit in music and movies sales? Meh, it will hurt, but it won’t kill the beast that Jobs has created. What good is buying music and movies from Facebook if you don’t have something great to watch/listen to them on?

The rest of the Elgan article is how and why Apple should be able to craft such a social networking competitor — Elgan even states:

[…]Apple already has the most difficult and expensive parts of a killer social network.

Elgan wants Apple to build a Facebook competitor because he believes such a competitor could/should be better. The real question isn’t whether Apple needs to build a competitor (it doesn’t), but the question really is: Doesn’t Apple already have a social network?

I’m not talking about Ping — I am talking about your Apple ID.

Apple doesn’t copy things that they don’t perceive as working well — they re-imagine things. In that light wouldn’t a better social network — one that more directly helps Apple — be a network that you don’t even know you are using?

Perhaps the next “big” social network doesn’t have a central domain that you login in to — now that would be a real threat to Facebook.

Last Point

Facebook makes money by selling ads, a business that Apple isn’t all that successful, or interested, in. If Facebook really takes away media sale profits from Apple, why wouldn’t Apple just partner with Facebook to give Apple users better access on their devices (they already have with Twitter)? Thus continuing to compel users to buy their devices to access Facebook on.

Originally posted for members on: September 26, 2011
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