A Ping by any other name would pong a bit less

A Ping by any other name would pong a bit less

Summary: As you have probably noticed from the associated geekgasm, Apple has announced a sort of social network that is tied to its own online shop and elephantine iTunes software.Although some people found it to be “a big pile of steaming dung”, a haven for spammers and, as Mashable claimed, “slower than molasses in January at the North Pole during a legitimate Ice Age,” there’s nothing as weird about it as the name.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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As you have probably noticed from the associated geekgasm, Apple has announced a sort of social network that is tied to its own online shop and elephantine iTunes software.

Although some people found it to be “a big pile of steaming dung”, a haven for spammers and, as Mashable claimed, “slower than molasses in January at the North Pole during a legitimate Ice Age,” there’s nothing as weird about it as the name. Ping.

I wondered why Apple had chosen it because there’s already a Ping.fm social networking company, a Pingdom site and a Facebook-connected garment*, as well as the Golf equipment company. OK, I know Apple doesn’t do blogging or social networking, but surely some of its staff are allowed to read the web.

Apple is well known for calling things by names it doesn’t own (Cisco sued over iPhone then licensed iOS to Apple, while Apple bought another name from FaceTime Communications) so I hope it’s going to pay the Seesmic-owned Ping.fm something. You don’t need to trample tiny social networking companies underfoot when you have more than $40 billion in the bank. It just makes you look greedy.

More than that, of course, Ping is very, very similar to Bing, and Apple fanboys poured plenty of scorn over that choice of name. At least Microsoft’s Bing has a joke hidden in it (Bing Is Not Google), but Apple has never been suspected of having a sense of humour. In any case, PING (Partimage Is Not Ghost) has already been done.

Ping is also the name of a semi-humorous weekly video show on Microsoft’s Channel 9 developers’ site. The latest edition is number 73, so it’s been going for more than year. Anyway, the presenters have a bit of fun welcoming us back to “the original Ping”, saying: “I’m sorry but apparently someone took our name.” Then they show a screen of another dozen Ping logos.

“It’s a good name,” says Ping’s Laura Foy. But those of us who have been pinging things for decades have to wonder why Apple couldn't be bothered to think of anything better.

* The Electricfoxy website says: Ping is a garment that connects to your Facebook account wirelessly and from anywhere. It allows you to stay connected to your friends and groups of friends simply by performing natural gestures that are built into the mechanics of the garments we wear. Lift up a hood, tie a bow, zip, button, and simply move, bend and swing to ping your friends naturally and automatically. No phone, no laptop, no hardware. Simply go about your day, look good and stay connected.

Topic: Tech Industry

Jack Schofield

About Jack Schofield

Jack Schofield spent the 1970s editing photography magazines before becoming editor of an early UK computer magazine, Practical Computing. In 1983, he started writing a weekly computer column for the Guardian, and joined the staff to launch the newspaper's weekly computer supplement in 1985. This section launched the Guardian’s first website and, in 2001, its first real blog. When the printed section was dropped after 25 years and a couple of reincarnations, he felt it was a time for a change....

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4 comments
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  • What do you mean "Semi" humorous!?!?! Haha, it's full on humorous!! :)
    - Laura Foy
    LauraFoy
  • and those of us who are too geeky for our own good have been saying 'ping me later' to friends for years (from the networking command)
    M
    Simon Bisson and Mary Branscombe
  • ‘Ping’ is the pronunciation of the character for 'apple' 蘋 in the Mandarin Chinese dialect (spoken by 800 million people as a first language, more than any other language). With the other connotation of 'pinging' a device tying in nicely with the idea of 'poking' or 'buzzing' someone in an IM or SNS, it's quite a clever name. The word as onomatopoeia could arguably give it an additional musical connotation. So, the word ties the corporate (Apple), in with the social and the musical.
    caesartg
  • @caesartg
    Love that response, though my Chinese wife says Apple is Pin Koh (what it sounds like to me) in Mandarin or 蘋果 so Ping would only be the half of it ;-)
    Jack Schofield