iPhone Address Book Fiasco Should Be Apple's Cue to Build Its Own Social Network

Apple is good at many things, but so far, it has not excelled at "social" Web services. For example, Ping, the music-focused service it launched in 2010, is seen as one of its rare failures.

But now Apple has a real chance to do something "social" properly, by turning its huge and growing base of iOS users into a useful social platform, while maintaining appropriate privacy and security.

The need for such a service has heightened over the past week by a pretty ugly controversy: Several social iOS apps have been caught uploading the contents of phones' address books to their servers - without asking for permission - in order to make friend-finding easier. The Feds even want to know what's going on.

As embarrassing as this is, it's actually a big opportunity for Apple to build something new.

Like what? Apple is already working on an update that will require apps to obtain explicit permission before accessing your address book, the same way they have to ask for permission to access your geographic location and Twitter account.

Dan Frommer