What balls Apple has.
Seriously, I have no other words for Ping, their new “music social network” available through iTunes. But I can at least try to explain these words, as I have a post to write about it.
To be fair, the only comparison between this Ping and Google Wave is that Wave was a pretty good idea – it was just something most people didn’t have the time to learn.
Ping, on the other hand, is largely a way to promote buying music from iTunes. Anyone following this stuff already knew they had a yen to do more with music. They did also announce the new iPod touch, how they were going to eventually get everyone to make video calls, and plans to keep Apple TV from finally dying.
And as I mentioned, Ping. While I’m sure it’s going to work out great for them, as a social network it is a bust for us, the ones who will presumably be using it.
Here’s what sucks:
It is only accessible through iTunes.
That kills mobile for those of us who have successfully resisted the iPhone juggernaut.
No RSS feed.
Without this, I can’t push posts to the sites where my real friends are – Friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook.
Suggested people to “follow.”
These suggestions are all recording artists. In particular, currently popular artists who I’m assuming their labels paid Apple to promote in this way. The thing suggested I follow ColdPlay for God’s sake. It obviously doesn’t take into account the music I do like, just the music I should like. (Coldplay! COLDPLAY!!!)
It is only accessible through iTunes.
So it has that annoying Mac-like user interface that only Mac devotees love. The rest of us just think it’s annoying.
The only “socializing” is done through sharing reviews.
<sarcasm> Because I really, deeply care about what you think of Lady Gaga. No. Really.</sarcasm>
Apple must okay your profile.
Unclench, Apple! Only dating sites have a good reason to approve profile pictures. And if I swear at you in my bio for suggesting I make friendly with Coldplay, don’t do that annoying s**t with the * marks. I have no idea who gets protected by that.
No profile names.
Believe it or not, I don’t like sharing my real name widely. It doesn’t take much to find it, but most spam marketing scum won’t put in the time to find out who “Ciaoenrico” really is. That’s why I use it everywhere. It’s also why I lied to Apple about what my name is – to protect what little privacy I still have left in a Web 2.0 world.
And did I mention it’s only accessible through iTunes?
Meaning there’s an extra step to use it, so people won’t just pop in to use it the way they would a web based social network. That means fewer people to follow. I found three. (And I looked a LOT.)
Normally I’d say something like this needs a lot of work – which this does. But the problem is less one of technology decisions that weren’t thought out than one of philosophy. The idea behind this site is to get people to not talk all about music, but music Apple sells. It abandons what makes social great, namely socializing with other people.
Instead they hope I’ll do their work for them, steering people towards great product. The Yelp! of music it ain’t.
I don’t doubt Ping will be around for a while, since Apple has deep enough pockets to keep anything going no matter how bad it is. I also don’t doubt the Church of Jobs, who love all things Apple, will do what they always do: Post far and wide about how Ping is, “Sleek. Elegant. Powerful. Changes the game for social networking.”
Here’s an old joke for you: Steve Jobs shits in a paper bag, slaps an Apple logo on it, and sells it in his stores for $400. Five minutes later, Techcrunch (the Pravda of Apple) writes, “Sleek. Elegant. Powerful. Revolutionizes shit in a bag.”
In this case, though, the shit in the bag has been named Ping.