Google's fear: An Apple-Facebook love fest

Just one small mention from Apple CEO Tim Cook of "watch this space" on the subject of Apple's relationship with Facebook surely causes stomachs at Google to churn a little. What if Apple tries to buy Facebook?

Tim Cook at D10. All Things D video screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

These are troubled times for technologically inclined.

Facebook's share price is swooning like a '40s actress . A departing Google employee suggests Google isn't Google any more because of Google+.

And, of all heresies, some are even contemplating that the iPhone isn't cool any more .

In times like these, when everyone seems plagued by insecurities, normal behavior is to huddle together for a little warmth, a heartfelt human hug.

So just a few words from Apple CEO Tim Cook -- speaking last week at the D10 Conference -- surely sent shivers into the skins of those who might be left alone.

For, when asked to comment on Apple's relationship with Facebook, he called Facebook "a great company." Then he added: "We have great respect for them. I think we can do more with them. Just stay tuned on this one."

There was also these words concerning Facebook's way of doing business: "Two people who have strong points of view appreciate each other even more and their relationship is much longer lasting."

How very seductive.

Can you feel those Apple arms reaching out to embrace its troubled, um, friend, Mark Zuckerberg? What could these clearly calculated words have possibly meant?

Some believed they indicated a simple update such as Facebook being bound up snugly with iOS 6.

But it took Business Insider's Owen Thomas to utter the words that had surely entered at least a couple of minds: what if Apple bought Facebook?

Indeed, Thomas speculated that, should Facebook's stock price continue upon its inebriated meander, Apple might step in and save Facebook's face. Well, and its fine trove of data, of course.

As with every fine episode of "Law and Order," there is excellent circumstantial evidence here. Facebook is supposedly trying work out mobile and build a phone. Oh, but how much easier life would be if that phone was, well, a nice, large-screened iPhone?

Apple, meanwhile, knows that this social thing has become pesky. Its Ping hasn't registered a ding on the bell curve of human interest.

By offering, say, $38 a share perhaps it might tempt all those clutching Facebook paper to cash in and disappear to the Bahamas -- or at least to the next money-making IPO? While Apple could look even more comfortably toward an enhanced kind of emotional world dominance.

Cook already told investors this year that Facebook is the company that is most like Apple.

If you asked Google's Larry Page which company is most like Google, would he really say "Motorola"?

The biggest difficulty, perhaps, of an Apple-Facebook marriage is that neither company has ever really worked out how to make money from ads. But perhaps Apple's fine success at simply, well, making money would make the ads thing seem a little less onerous.

Is it excessively fanciful to think that a few elevated people at Google listened to Cook's perhaps mischievous words and suddenly felt a little chill?

 

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