Amid reports that Apple is working on a social app, if not an outright foray into a social network, analysts wonder whether the company is already too far out of the social loop to make a difference.
"Apple would have to come up with a very solid social app in order to compete with what's available today," said Dan Olds, an analyst with OrionX. "Even with Apple's very large installed base of users, I think it would be very difficult for Apple to compete head-on with Facebook, Twitter or Google. I'm not sure people want to add yet another social network to manage and maintain. The market seems fairly well satisfied right now."
At this point in the progression of social media - with users ensconced in Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest - what would it take for Apple to make a real difference, or even a dent, in the market?
"Apple would have to come up with something extraordinary in order to grab enough users to make it worth their while," said Olds.
The idea of Apple trying another dive into the social media pool followed a Bloomberg report that Apple is working on a new video editing and sharing app for the iOS platform.
The app, according to Bloomberg, would aid users in easily and quickly sharing video on sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. At this point in its development, the app could be a stand-alone or incorporated in the iPhone's camera app.
Apple has also touted big upgrades to messaging app to better compete against Facebook's own app, Messenger.
Despite Apple's failed music-based iTunes Ping social network, analysts said it might make sense for Apple to try again. The company, after all, is missing out on the social media craze that has people around the world addicted to checking friends' posts in the middle of the night and even updating their own status from the once sacred privacy of the bathroom.
"Apple is behind in social media," said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. "This does not mean they will ever be a significant player in social media, but I'm sure that's a target they would like to achieve... If they can marry a successful social media app with their technology, it will help them grow further and faster."
Judith Hurwitz, an analyst with Hurwitz & Associates, said it might be easier for the company to buy its way into the social networking world. "It would be interesting to see if Apple will buy a company like Twitter," she told Computerworld in an email. "Starting from scratch may be difficult."
However, Hurwitz also noted it might make sense for Apple to focus on a social network based on photos since that would tie into the use of the iPhone's camera.
Rather than building its own social site and focus, Apple could focus on working better with others that already exist.
"I think Apple has decided that they need to have a social media presence, but I'm not sure that they'll develop their own vehicle with their devices," said Olds. "I think it's more likely that they'll imbue their devices with Apple-only features that make the existing social networks easier to use, or provide a richer user experience."
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