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A social Apple is a better Apple: Why Apple needs Twitter to win the platform war.

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Let's breakdown apple into a few categories:




content distribution

On the first two, I believe Apple has a natural supply-chain and innovation advantage, although of course, others will eventually catch up. Which is why folks want to know what their next breakthrough would be.

That being said, I believe the latter two are enhanced by Apple being more social. The platform and content drive sales of the hardware/OS. I purchased my first apple product in 2007: an iPhone. I then purchased in 2008 my second apple product: a MacBook pro. In 2011 I purchased my third Apple product: an iPad. Once my content and apps were centralized on one platform -- Apple -- the switching cost is and was too great.

For the app store and platform approach to work, Apple needs great content and great discovery. The latter has become an incredible challenge. So much so that they've purchased Chomp for $50m to improve this process.

While they need to continue to deliver great content across all devices -- TV, Mobile, Desktop/Laptop -- quality of content, much like quality of apps, are determined by a social component:

How many have watched this film? How much $$ at the box office? How many albums sold? How many downloads? How many daily active users? What's the retention rate? What's the churn?

People -- and the value people place on content and apps alike -- are the external determinant qualifying factor for quality. If the people consider something to be not valuable, the effects are far-reaching; and vice versa.

For Apple to stay ahead, they need better discovery through sharing, rankings, and reviews.

How do I discover good content? How do I discover good applications?

Through friends. Think Spotify and their relationship with Facebook. Think Netflix and their algorithms. Think Amazon and their reviews.

Therefore, I believe, companies like Dropbox, Netflix, Kindle and Spotify are existential threats to Apple moreso than Google or Microsoft would ever be. The aforementioned take content and apps, and make them platform-agnostic. Purchase movies on iTunes? Try Netflix -- can play across any device from mobile to console to set-top box. Purchase books on apple? Try Amazon. Sync apps, data and content across devices? Try Dropbox. Purchase and find good music on iTunes? Try spotify. FaceTime with other friends who own Apple devices? Try Skype.

Those companies unlock people from the apple ecosystem; they also mean that in the future, the platform war will be won on content, on apps, and on the discovery or validation of the former. If google and microsoft are to compete on the hardware/OS-integration front on mobile, tablet, desktop and TV they'd do well to consider acquiring stakes in spotify, Dropbox, and Netflix. Which, inherently, makes Amazon Apple's fiercest competitor, because they are the company that can most closely attempt to succeed with a content/apps strategy.

It's unclear how apple will remain a quickly-eroding content edge, other than aggressively negotiating with music, movie, tv -- and possibly game -- companies. They clearly remain a favorite for app developers.

For apple to remain a leader in their platform and content approach; however, they must integrate people on a fundamental level.

Enter: Twitter.

I think social makes a lot of things worse, not better.

Far few people are willing to do things if their names are attached.

I also think that Twitter is too narcissistic to be social.

Also, Twitter is too superficial to be useful for anything but public notifications.

I agree; however, I believe social improves many things: news, funding, and especially ratings for content and apps.

Inception has a 8.6 collective IMDB rating. Movies that have 6 or below, I'd have a hard time seeing.

That being said, the value is the friend/follower list to apple, more so than the product. Their API, essentially.

I should say: enter twitter API.

It will improve content and app ratings and discovery. Id be able to share music on iTunes via my twitter friends/followers, see what movies or books are rated by an authenticated community. Maybe even iMessage with a twitter friend.

A public social graph that integrates with apples content and apps.

Basically, the ability to see which products people I follow on Twitter are willing to share.

Hmmm, I'm still not convinced. How many apps and songs can I really buy?

Twitter is not mainstream and there's a good chance it never will be.

Right now, my mother has a Facebook account. She does not even know what Twitter is. This is one person but I think the underlying point resonates strongly with all those not in a Silicon Valley echo chamber.

Many suspect Twitter is not nearly as populous as we've been led to believe:

And as for the future, teens aren't tweeting:

Plus, iOS 6 (coming in October) will have Facebook integrated.

At this point Apple is more likely to embrace Facebook than Twitter for social, as Eric suggests.

(Bonus points for finding two earlier PandaWhale convos!)

I disagree. I don't have data, only anecdote. I used to work with junior high students. Those students are now high schoolers. Out of a group of 50, about 25 have twitter accounts. Twitter is younger than Facebook by, I believe, two years.

As Facebook gets more stuff -- open social app games graph whatever -- twitter (and, ironically enough, mobile apps like instagram) remain simple and more fluid. For at least a few dozen of my friends, I'm more likely to find out what they are doing, how they are doing, where they are doing it on Twitter than Facebook. An FB friend who submits 20 status' a day might e considered obnoxious by most; however, that's normal behavior on twitter.

I don't think it's either or or, but I do think twitter is going to have a huge impact on social networking in the next half-dozen years.

Adam, I went and saw savages in theaters. Why? A friend recommended it. Getting a friend's recommendation for how I spend my leisure time: from activities to books to movies to music, is a key social experience. What about apps? Not just ratings and recommendations but sharing; it's no coincidence that I sign in to pandawhale via LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter...

Since mobile usage continues to increase, with a positive first and second derivate apparently, the importance of influencing how people spend their time and money will only increase.

The war for middle earth...I mean middle America has begun.

Ping was a failure, I don't have much hope Apple could buy anything and integrate it without breaking it. Their DNA is not social.

I wanted Ping to work. The thing I most missed from Napster was not free music but the ability to find someone like me and browse their collection and try stuff out. If Apple could design a system like that, where I could look through friends' or even strangers' playlists, and play them if only once, I think sales would go through the roof.

But that means understand what social means to them in their context. They should use social more like Amazon does than how Twitter does. They models on twitter, with "follow" and celebrities when they should have been considering how the wisdom of others like me helps me listen to music, which is why I open itunes in the first place.

Ping is on my fantasy five apps to "fix."

I would love to see you fix Ping, C.

David, I disagree that Twitter is getting simpler.

In the last year Twitter has gotten more complicated, more full of ads, and more full of noise.

I've also had the Twitter Web service hang and fail so many times that I actively use it a lot less than a year ago, because the company does not respect technology the way Facebook does. Facebook Web almost never hangs or crashes.

I now spend more time I would have spent on Twitter on other services like Tumblr, Pinterest, and Google+.

Twitter's suckiness is splintering its audience. That's something they started that they cannot stop.

Worst of all is the unreliability of Twitter OAuth and the rate limiting of Twitter APIs.

Those two fails give the world a reason to support a post-Twitter solution.

I agree about all of your points, especially about respect for technology -- for being such a well-funded company with "truckloads of cash in the bank," this truly surprises me.

Still, if apple cannot rely on Facebook for whatever reason -- does anyone know why the Ping deal fell through a couple years ago -- twitter is their next best option.

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