MG Siegler over at TechCrunch has posted Apple Planning Some Super Secret Social App? with an iFriendFeed graphic (pictured with this post), in which he points out that this is entirely a rumor, but also wonders if the possible pressure of Apple entering into FriendFeed’s space could be part of the reason that FriendFeed just sold to FaceBook.
As I just noted in my Google Reader Shared items stream: Apple sucks at web services. Apple is, and always has been, primarily a hardware company. Here’s Apple’s timeline of web services: free iTools became paid for .Mac became rebranded-because-it-wasn’t-selling MobileMe and it still sucks and the vast majority of users who are locked in to paying $99 a year for the mostly useless service are locked in because of that early @mac.com email address that was originally free that we all signed up for and which Apple subsequently switched over to pay. The other users are the ones who read all the great Push iPhone integration stories and think, “Ooooh, that sounds nice!”
Also, take a minute and poke around iTunes and the iTunes Music Store and App Store. This is quite possibly the thing that Apple has built that is most conducive to being social and it entirely fails to foster any sort of community. It only contains reviews. [UPDATE: I just noticed the stories that have been circulating about the new version of iTunes being more social. I don’t think it will succeed because of the track record Apple has with these types of endeavors.]
There will be no FriendFeed competitor from Apple and if it did come to fruition it would be a trainwreck, not something to push FriendFeed to sell to Facebook. More likely, it would serve to legitimize FriendFeed’s space and rev up the buyout price or persuade the FriendFeed team to stick to their guns.
FriendFeed sold for two basic reasons: because they liked the idea of building something that would be used by a broader audience, and they liked the idea of making some money for a change. Like they did (and two things they most likely miss from) when they worked for Google. Plain and simple.