Ping: Apple should leave social to Facebook, Twitter

Ping, a social network described as Facebook and Twitter meeting iTunes, was launched today. But will people really go to iTunes to be social?
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

One of the announcements out of Apple's event this morning focused around Ping, a Facebook-and-Twitter-meets-iTunes kind of social network.

It was a nice effort, I suppose. After all, if you have 160 million members - with credit card numbers on file, no less - it's probably a nice way to jump start into the social networking game. But will users really go to iTunes to be social?

I know I won't.


A couple of quick thoughts off the top of my head:

  • iTunes is already bloated. There's already too much there and adding something else is too much,
  • A Facebook or Twitter button might have been better. Instead of creating your own social network, why not team up with Facebook or Twitter and let them "like" songs or artists and share links that go back to iTunes? After all, if there are 500 million Facebook users and only 160 million iTunes users, there's a quick way to pull some of those holdouts into iTunes, right?
  • And what's up with the whole "tunes" thing? Sure, iTunes got a new logo but iTunes is about way way more than music - and has been for some time. It needed a new name.
  • I'll give Apple this much - at least they got it right with the privacy settings. Users have total control over who follows and what's shared. The "Circle of Friends" thing could be cool but... it's not enough to pull me into iTunes to be social.
  • And going mobile with Ping right out of the gate may help with some traction. Mobile users love to be social - but are we really buying music on-the-go in widespread numbers? Or are we mostly just listening? And if we are buying on-the-go, is that something people will be willing to share?

Ping is an interesting idea and music is something that we have been sharing with friends for the longest time. It strikes me as interesting that Apple has come up with a way to allow people to "share" their music tastes but not the music itself - which I never would have expected Apple or the record labels to do. Is this one way to make "sharing" music OK?

Apple is good at what it does - hardware, software, design and, of course, marketing. But social networking? Even if it is tied to music, I just can't see widespread adoption of Ping - even if it's forced on us through iTunes.

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