Will Apple bring social networking to iTunes?

Steve Jobs will be delivering his latest keynote speech at Macworld tomorrow, and as is usual in these matters, the rumors and pundit-driven predictions are coming thick and fast. Will Apple embrace software software?

Steve Jobs will be delivering his latest keynote speech at Macworld tomorrow, and as is usual in these matters, the rumors and pundit-driven predictions are coming thick and fast. As an Apple fan I know not to confuse what I'd like to see announced in San Francisco with what is likely to happen. On top of my wish-list for example, is that Apple will deliver a free update to its media-center software, Front Row, (perhaps in conjunction with the launch of the company's new set-top-box), so that third parties can build plugins which enable the software to connect to various social web services such as YouTube or Flickr.

Joshua Porter has a different wish. iTunes itself should become more social:

At some point in the not-so-distant future, the iTunes player and music store will have serious competition, as Microsoft and other competitors figure out successful formulas for selling music online. iTunes, as it currently exists, lacks social features that it desperately needs to face its future competition. Apple doesn’t need to look very far for inspiration: music recommendation engines Last.fm and Pandora both have lots of wonderful social features that help people discover new music. And, for those movically inclined, Netflix kicks a lot of butt in the movie recommendations area. (an Apple/Netflix partnership of some sort would be intriguing).

Right now iTunes does a pretty good job at telling you what's popular, but doesn't help you harness the taste of your own social network - just the masses as a whole:

What people can’t find out, and what is crucial to music and movie sharing, is knowing what your trusted social groups are listening and watching. iTunes lacks a way for people to know what their friends and family are currently enjoying. This is where most of our recommendations come from. iTunes could benefit greatly from a recommendation service based not only on what people listen to and watch, but also what trusted people are doing.

Will Apple embrace social networking? I have my doubts, but it's another one to add to the wish-list.

Related post: Could YouTube be the killer-app for Apple’s iTV?