Say what you will about the new social features that Apple baked into its venerable iTunes software, most would agree that it has a lot of potential. But Ping's suffering from some growing pains right now. For starters, there's the FaceBook flap. On launch day it had FB integration, but Ping's API access was blocked after Apple refused to agree to FaceBook's "onerous terms."
Then theres Ping's buggy "Invite Your Friends By Email" feature which hasn't worked for me yet. I tried it multiple times on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The form submission is simple enough:
...but I get this error when I click the Invite button:
The invite feature must be working for some people though, because I'm getting occasional invitations.
The third -- and most troubling -- problem for Ping is the onslaught of spam. The Guardian's Josh Halliday notes that Ping has succumbed to spammers, "showing a curse of social media – even inside proprietorial walls."
If you launch iTunes and click on Ping in the left pane, or click on "Recent activity" under the Ping area in the right navigation, you're greeted by a "wall" page (of sorts) that displays recent activity of people you follow.
Because I follow Coldplay I see all of the comments that people make under the band's posts. And the first one is a spammy "Free iPhone" offer (URL obfuscated). If you click on "Show more comments" link many more "free iPhone" come ons are in the comments.
It looks like iTunes' 160 million user accounts are a "siren call to spammers" indeed. And if that weren't bad enough people are creating fake People pages on Ping, like one for Ben Folds, which the he tweeted wasn't set up by him.
After recent waves of phishing, royalty and credit card fraud Apple has to be vigilant to protect the integrity of its iTunes, it's goose that keeps laying golden eggs. For now, the best thing to do is to report spammy comments (via the "Report" link along the top in blue).
Let's hope that Apple nips this problem in the bud soon.