Facebook’s missing iPad app a hostage to iOS 5 stand-off with Apple

27 Sep 2011

The enduring delay of Facebook’s iPad app appears to be due to a stand-off in negotiations between the social networking giant and Apple over Facebook seeking greater integration into Apple’s next mobile operating system iOS 5.

The app is understood to have been ready for at least five months now and failure to go live with the app has resulted in one Facebook employee – Jeff Verkoeyen – leaving the company in frustration, according to the New York Times.

Verkoeyen has since joined Google and is working on backend work for its mobile team.

Apple is just weeks away from unveiling its new iPhone 5 and simultaneously its next generation mobile operating system iOS5. The next generation of iPad devices is not expected until early next year.

It is understood that Facebook and Apple’s relationship began to sour when Apple moved into social networking with Ping last year.

At the time many wondered how Facebook was taking Apple’s sudden foray into social. Facebook swiftly pulled the plug on the ability for Ping users to find their friends on Facebook. The feedback from Apple was that Facebook’s terms were “onerous.”

Facebook’s Ticker Vs. Apple’s iTunes

Last week I expressed my belief that if rumours were true that Facebook was planning to create a digital entertainment hub within every one of its 750m users’ profile pages it would set Facebook on a collision course with Apple and its own iCloud plans.

And indeed, last week’s Timeline reveal at F8 coincided with the launch of an array of alliances between Facebook and various music and video services like Spotify, Rhapsody, Hulu and Netflix. Using the new Ticker system users could see what their friends are listening to or watching and join in for free.

While an iPad app was expected to be unveiled at F8, it was clear the PR people had manicured Mark Zuckerberg’s response to any questions; he fielded awkward questions by telling people he was still excited with the potential of browsers on tablets.

It seems with its new range of digital media offerings, Facebook might be threatening to leave Apple and iTunes out in the cold.

Perhaps this will be the first real test of new Apple CEO Tim Cook’s leadership.

Last night it emerged that Spotify was only accepting new members who had a Facebook profile – perhaps a taste of the kind of terms Facebook places on digital media providers who want to distribute media via its new Ticker.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years