The launch of the Ping social network at Apple's recent media event isn't really something most of us expected. It's an interesting service which uses your social network to help you discover new music within iTunes. Of course, in order for it to be of any use, you need to have a social graph for it to pull data from. Most sites would simply connect to your Twitter and Facebook to give you a base to work from, but this isn't possible for Ping because Facebook decided to block Apple's API access.
Why the Block?
Most of your up-and-coming applications that connect to Facebook do so without any formal agreements. This is because they are usually small and won't cause much of a dent in Facebook's resources. For companies like Twitter and Apple, Facebook requires some type of agreement in place just to cover their bases. That many users trying to sync up their entire social graph from Facebook could be a problem.
In Apple's case, they had all the functionality in place and the Facebook feature worked for a day or so, but was promptly blocked by Facebook at the API level. This is because the two companies never reached any agreement. Apple hasn't commented on the matter, but Facebook did give a canned response:
"Weâre working with Apple to resolve this issue. Weâve worked together successfully in the past, and we look forward to doing so in the future"
Can They Squash It?
Why does this canned response sound familiar? Hrm... Oh! Because this is the same message we got from Facebook after a similar situation with Twitter: "We are working with Twitter to resolve the issue." Facebook and Twitter were never able to get it together, so it's not really looking good for an agreement between Facebook and Apple. This is especially true given that Jobs himself says Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to."
While a simple partnership would benefit both companies, it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Both companies are well-known for being stubborn. However, if Ping can't get the social ball rolling on its own, it may need a boost from Facebook to fill in the blanks.