Revolutionary Measures

Is social media really going to go Ping?

Lady GaGa concert
Image via Wikipedia

Last week Apple launched its new Ping service with much fanfare. Claimed to be a music-based social network it allows you to follow your favourite artists, friends and share your musical tastes.

It all sounds fine and dandy and a good brand extension for Apple’s iTunes service – after all, the more different music you listen to, the more you should buy.

Apple claim there are already 1 million Ping users (Pingers? Pinguins?) but the overall media reaction has been overwhelmingly negative.

So what’s Apple done wrong with Ping? Five things jump out:

1) There are plenty of alternatives for music fans, ranging from to Spotify. People have already signed up for these – why would they replicate this when there’s no real benefit or exclusive content?

2) It doesn’t integrate with other social media. You can’t link to Facebook or Twitter, so you need to manually build your friends up. Again, why bother?

3) There aren’t enough artists on there. Whatever your taste in music, the number of artists to follow is limited and seems to revolve around Lady Gaga… Real fans will already be following their idols on Twitter, Facebook or via RSS feeds.

4) It’s not designed to share your music or playlists (a la Spotify or Your friends can listen to snippets of music, but any more than that and they need to pay. Hardly very sociable.

5) This is a personal one (because I’m nearly 40). But I don’t want the world in general to know what I’ve just bought or am listening to. Particularly in an interview context, are you going to take someone seriously that listens to the Birdy Song on a regular basis?

I think these issues all come from the fact that Apple has become successful second time around, not through innovation but hardware design. The iPod, iPhone and iPad are lusted after not because they do something different to the rest of the market, but due to their sheer sexiness and perceived cool. Much more difficult to do with a social network, particularly when we’re essentially living in a Facebook world.

So will Ping survive? It’ll limp along until Apple bites the bullet and integrates with other social media – or just quietly subsumes it back into iTunes as an additional feature like Genius……….

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September 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


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