How the webOS Facebook app made Jobs yell at Zuckerberg
Facebook is an interesting company. The rate at which they’re gaining more and more data on their users every daiy, and how they managed to practically annex the entire internet with Open Graph is simply astounding. But Facebook has always had an interesting relationship with mobile, ranging from basic mobile sites to full-blown platform specific apps. To date, Facebook has yet to release an app for any tablet platform.
But that hasn’t stopped various tablet makers, notably RIM and HP, from taking advantage of Facebook’s APIs to make their own Facebook tablet apps. RIM did it for the PlayBook, and frankly nobody noticed. But when HP did so for the TouchPad, it stirred up a bit of controversy between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The two companies have had a bit of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” vibe going with regards to Google, but Facebook’s always seemed like the more hesitant of the pair. When Apple launched their Ping quasi-social music network thing, their use of the Facebook API was irking enough to Facebook that they pulled access. Things eventually were smoothed over, but the relationship’s been rocky ever since (note the lack of Facebook integration in iOS 5 and the presence of Twitter).
Things got especially tense this summer, as noted by Mashable, with Jobs personally visiting Facebook and Zuckerberg to discuss the development of a Facebook app for the iPad. Facebook has released official apps for iOS and Android, but only the phones, whereas the PlayBook and TouchPad’s Facebook apps were made by the manufacturers, perhaps with a little bit of Facebook’s help.
The TouchPad likely irritated Jobs to some degree just by existing (though at this point having not yet launched), and when he learned during his visit that Facebook was going to launch on the TouchPad before the iPad, he was, in a word, livid. To placate Jobs, Zuckerberg apparently vowed to get the app pulled, but then webOS Global Business Unit chief Jon Rubinstein refused. So, in a move so juvenile and predictable we could only expect it to come from Facebook (we kid because we love (and fear)), the social network restricted HP’s access to the APIs.
So if you’re wondering why the Facebook app for the TouchPad isn’t awesome, there you go. In this case, it’s actually reasonable to blame Apple, but we’d be more likely to blame Facebook. HP was working with Facebook to make the app for the TouchPad – they knew exactly what was going on the TouchPad and only yanked access to make Steve Jobs happy. Not that it really matters anymore.