The Curious Case of Apple's Online Store


There was a curious bit of downtime on the Apple Store this morning, and perhaps now we see why:

Apple appears to be experimentingwith adding social media functions inside the store. Go to the product selection pagesfor the Mac Pro or the iPod Classic (two of Apple's least popular products, by the way), and there's an option to share that product configuration on Facebook or Twitter. The social sharing option doesn't show up on other product pages. On Twitter, Apple shortens links to an URL.

The move is an interesting one for Apple, which hasn't ever found its groove in social media.

Ping, the iTunes social network the company launched in September, isn't much to write home about. Ping launched without well thought-out Facebook integration, which I found deeply disappointing. Apple products like iPhoto and the iTunes Store already do a decent job of allowing users to "share" items on Facebook and Twitter, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced Twitter integration in iOS 5, but Apple hasn't yet managed to get the experience more deeply rooted than that.

Is this a sign that Apple's post-Ping relationship with Facebook may be warming up? Probably not, since this amounts to the browser-based Apple Store taking on some attributes that the iTunes application already had. But it's always interesting to see the Cupertino crowd getting a little more social.

UPDATE: Apple called CNBC back and said the social links were live before this morning's downtime, and were not the reason for the store's downtime.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.comAnd you can follow Jon Fortt on Twitter @jonfortt