New documents brought to light as part of the Apple vs. Epic legal battle offer interesting details on the history of the relationship between Facebook and Apple. The documents, revealed by Epic Games and first spotted by CNBC, show that the relationship between Apple and Facebook has been strained since as far back as 2011.
Around this time, Facebook had not yet released a dedicated app for the iPad, which debuted in 2010. Apple’s Scott Forstall, then serving as the company’s software chief, sent an email to Phil Schiller and Steve Jobs regarding a meeting he had with Mark Zuckerberg about bringing Facebook to the iPad.
At the heart of Facebook’s concerns was that Apple would not allow the Facebook for iPad application to include “embedded apps.” Forstall wrote:
I just discussed with Mark how they should not include embedded apps in the Facebook iPad app–neither in an embedded web view or as a directory of links that would redirect to Safari.
Not surprisingly, he wasn’t happy with this as he considers these apps part of the “whole Facebook experience” and isn’t sure they should do an iPad app without them. Everything works in Safari, so he is hesitant to push people to a native app with less functionality, even if the native app is better for non-third party app features.
Zuckerberg suggested a few compromises to Forstall:
- Do not include a directory of apps in the Facebook app, links, or otherwise
- Do not have third-party apps run in the embedded web view
- Allow user posts in the news feed related to apps
- Tapping on one of these app-related links would (1) fast switch to a native app if one exists and the user has it installed, (2) take the user to the App Store if a native app exists and the user has not installed it, (3) link out to Safari otherwise
“I think this is all reasonable, with the possible exception of #3,” Forstall wrote in the email. Steve Jobs responded and wrote, “I agree — if we eliminate Fecebooks third proposal it sounds reasonable.” Note Jobs’s spelling of Facebook there.
A few days later, Forstall followed up and said that Zuckerberg did not like Apple’s counterproposal. CNBC further explains:
Schiller, who was Apple’s head of marketing until last year, and runs Apple’s Executive Review Board that makes calls whether apps will be approved by Apple, summed up Apple’s position.
“I don’t see why we want to do that,” Schiller wrote. “All these apps won’t be native, they won’t have a relationship or license with us, we won’t review them, they won’t use our APIs or tools, they won’t use our stores, etc.”
When Facebook’s iPad app eventually launched, it said that it would not support its own Credits currency on iOS for apps like Farmville — a compromise along the lines of what Apple’s executives discussed.
And of course, the relationship between Facebook and Apple has not at all improved since 2011. The two companies are currently engaged in a bitter battle of Apple’s focus on user privacy. Facebook has also criticized Apple for not allowing it to offer its gaming application on the App Store. Recent reports have also indicated that Facebook is mulling the possibility of launching its own antitrust lawsuit against Apple.