Apple (AAPL) and Netflix (NFLX) have quietly added social networking components to their music and video services, blurring the lines between retailer and community provider.
Apple’s iTunes service recently added “My iTunes Widgets,” a service that allows iTunes users to broadcast their music preferences to the world. After enabling the service, users can paste code into their blogs or social networks that shows what they have purchased, reviewed, or rated a favorite.
An example from my own iTunes account:
Apple’s move seems designed to capitalize on Web 2.0 trends that are allowing people to remix information from various sites and display it as they choose on sites like MySpace (NWS) or Facebook. If successful, Apple’s My iTunes initiative could drive more iTunes store purchases by exposing potential customers to their friends’ favorite music. The recent excitement around the Facebook social network is driven by similar dynamics; the company is now allowing developers to offer whatever widgets they choose to the site’s millions of registered users.
Netflix, likewise, has recently begun offering a “Community” area to members. Inside, the site exposes movie favorites from people with similar rental histories, and movies that are popular in a member’s geographic area. It also allows members to add pictures and nicknames, and control privacy settings. The features are similar to those that have been offered on sites like Amazon.com (AMZN), but with more opportunity for personalization.