Apple launches Ping (or, Apple Wave)

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.

Okay, yes, mean - but no one made this poor fellow pose for this picture!

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:

  1. It is only accessible through iTunes.

    That kills mobile for those of us who have successfully resisted the iPhone juggernaut.

  2. No RSS feed.

    Without this, I can’t push posts to the sites where my real friends are – Friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook.

  3. 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!!!)

  4. 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.

  5. The only “socializing” is done through sharing reviews.

    <sarcasm> Because I really, deeply care about what you think of Lady Gaga. No. Really.</sarcasm>

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

Yet another reaction to the iPad

Steve Jobs unveiling the iTouch Macro

It is not technically possible for you to have gotten to this post without having heard from someone that Apple released it’s entry into the tablet market yesterday, the iPad. It’s impossible because news of it is everywhere, and I just don’t have that kind of reach to have gotten to you first. So I won’t bother recapping.

I will say the negative reaction has been weirdly huge. Everything from jokes about the name, (the hashtag “#itampon” was huge on Twitter yesterday,) to complaints about what the thing doesn’t have, (camera, Flash support, the ability to make phone calls,) are making even the most hardcore Apple fanboys cry.

I’m not an Apple guy – I don’t have a problem with their stuff, but I don’t own a Macbook or an iPhone or an iTouch. I’ve had the same iPod for three years now, with no need or hope of replacing it. That having been said, I recognize that Apple is brilliant at defining new markets, and frankly the iPad will do just that.

Everyone has been, for some reason, running to Kindles in the last few years. I don’t get it, because I like reading books on paper myself. But a burgeoning market has opened up, and Apple is now stepping into it. This is just like what they did when they debuted the iPod: MP3 players were everywhere, then Apple came in and redefined the standard. It’s also what they did for smart phones, which were very rare before they came out with the iPhone. They aren’t trying to give you a newer version of something you already have, which frankly really would annoy me. Instead, they’re trying to improve upon what you already have.

The iPad is getting slammed, I think, because most of the people slamming it have no use for what it does. Fine. But that doesn’t mean it sucks, it just means it isn’t meant for you. Not everything is, you crybaby. Given what people say they want to use this for, I think most of them were hoping for a completely touch screen laptop.

The one complaint I do understand is that it will finally cripple AT&T’s data network. AT&T was the single worst possible service provider Apple could have ever tied themselves to. They’d already started asking iPhone users to take it easy with their use of the data service they were actually paying for. Think of that – people were paying for AT&T data service, and AT&T was asking them to not use so much of the data service that their customers were giving them money to use… the bald-faced chutzpah of that always screws me up.

And now Apple has a new wireless device that’s going to need to use the same network. Hey – maybe AT&T are the ones getting everyone to bitch about how the iPad is crap! Because if it does succeed, they may have to finally throw in the towel and admit they don’t know what they’re doing.