It’s been some weeks since Apple launched their iTunes-based social network, Ping and negative criticism has been quick to fly.
Chief among complaints has been the lack of interoperability with other social networks, caused mainly by Apple’s early falling out with Facebook over terms of access.
While it is undeniably true that increased social portability would aid Ping’s profile, (and therefore iTunes sales), across other platforms, that portability is only as useful as people’s propensity to use it.
Apple may boast a stellar take-up rate but a glance across most arenas of commentary reveals less than glowing reports.
swolfe: So sad that #itunes #Ping won’t let you “Ping” about a track that is not in their store. What an asshole-ish thing to do
rick_wayne: Does anyone really use #ping or is it still a gimmick attempt to increase #iTunes sales?
DjSlickD: iTunes Ping…… Please make this better Steve Jobs!! Us DJ’s & Artists need something incredible an easy to work with!
MKinTO: @Social_Net_Pro I love #apple,but I think #ping is a clear example w/ social media, if you don’t start asap, you will spend 4ev catching up
homeinmyheart: Nah, itunes #Ping, I already got a #lastfm
tantrumbang: Does anyone use itunes’ #ping? What’s the deal, pure marketing or something useful/fun?
ZayTizz: I dnt know y I jus downloaded #Ping like I dnt have enough shit to keep up wit :/
mortennicolay: #TOOL missing from #itunes, #ping equals waste, #art wins
Dean_life: Bye #ping I never used you.
dougdaulton: So, Ping needs a “find friends” feature like FB, Twitter, etc. to become a real social network
chrisduque1: Been using #Ping setting up profiles for clients. Not very impressed….
Michael8192: When #Ping and #Facebook integrate, then I’ll consider using the service on a regular basis.
MzMusicBusiness: I don’t know if I like the new iTunes #Ping thing..
Not wanting to criticise prematurely I’ve given Ping a fair crack since its launch and, aside from the, (fairly obvious), complaints above, it strikes me that Ping’s main fault is that it’s just not much fun.
Given that music is something that enriches our lives to such an enormous extent, (in fact a straw poll of the office revealed that 95% of pollees would rather live the rest of their lives without comedy than without music), it’s surprising how boring it can be simply watching people reel off lists of tracks and albums into Ping. Sure, there’s an element of recommendation, but that alone is too scant to hold one’s interest for very long and encourages no meaningful feedback at all; “it’s like shouting into a well”, as a friend described it. It very quickly becomes clear that the context wrapped around the music postings in other feeds such as Facebook or Twitter enhance and inform the musical content and bring it to life in a way that Ping is simply failing to do. The whole platform just needs to be more fun, it’s as simple as that.
Here’s a free idea, Apple. If you’re not going to allow the usual social media frippery that makes up the core content on other platforms, how about you introduce a simple game mechanic, where iTunes tracks the music that you recommend and rewards you with free downloads when, say, five people buy from your recommendations. This could escalate users to ‘mayorship’ (a la Foursquare) or ‘Guru’ status, with leaderboards etc…. You sell more. People get free stuff. Everyone has fun.
Have that one on us.