Steve Jobs on why no Facebook for Ping

Talks with Facebook about Apple's new Ping music social network fizzled, Jobs says, because Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to."

On Wednesday at the Apple music event in San Francisco, I had a short chat with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as he strolled through the demo room for the media, just after he had announced various updates for the iPod, Apple TV, and iTunes onstage.

One of the those was the introduction of a new social network for music called Ping that Apple has integrated within iTunes 10 and which looks an awful lot like the experience you get on Facebook.

Essentially, it is a vertical version--in this case for music--of the powerful social networking site.

Facebook has noodled for years about creating its own social music offering, including doing a partnership with Lala, which was bought by Apple last year and shuttered in June.

But its efforts have largely gone nowhere.

And Facebook is nowhere on Ping too. Currently, there is no linking, sharing or participation of any kind with Facebook--or Twitter or MySpace either--on Ping, which will work only on the iTunes software on computers, iPhones, and iPods.

'Onerous terms'
When I asked Jobs about that, he said Apple had indeed held talks with Facebook about a variety of unspecified partnerships related to Ping, but the discussions had gone nowhere.

The reason, according to Jobs: Facebook wanted "onerous terms that we could not agree to."

Apple iTunes logo
The new iTunes logo.

Definition, according to an online dictionary: "Involving an amount of effort and difficulty that is oppressively burdensome; Involving heavy obligations."

Jobs did not elaborate on those troublesome terms and also would not say if Ping would incorporate Facebook Connect--which would make it much easier to find friends to share music with.

"We could, I guess," he shrugged.

And when I asked how to find friends, Jobs offered, noting iTunes had 160 million users across the globe: "You can type their names into search or send them e-mails inviting them to join."

OK, although being more open would work too!

As MediaMemo's Peter Kafka noted:

"Maybe Apple plans on joining the rest of the Web, via an open API that will let Facebook, Twitter et al--maybe even the to-be-launched Google music service--play nicely with Ping. We'll see."

Facebook--including some execs who are definitely irked about how closely Ping resembles Facebook, right down to the blue color scheme--hopes so.

Consider the statement issued by Facebook to me--after attempts to get it verbally failed, due ironically to several dropped connections on the iPhone of the exec I spoke to:

"Facebook believes in connecting people with their interests and we've partnered with innovative developers around the world who share this vision. Facebook and Apple have cooperated successfully in the past to offer people great social experiences and we look forward to doing so in the future."

In other words: Zing, Ping.

In any case, Jobs said he had great hopes for the social music service, adding that Ping could be the most significant thing to come out of Wednesday's announcements.

But soon enough, he moved right onto the new iPods, declaring enthusiastically: "Isn't the Nano amazing?"

 

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