For those who don’t know, Ping! is Apple’s new music social networking service. Having observed the power, spread and potential of social networking, they appear to have decided they want a piece of it. Makes sense to a huge corporation like Apple.
They appear to have searched for where they had a mass of users together (iTunes) and have decided to leverage that power and try and link them all together. They marketed it as twitter and facebook meets iTunes (sic Steve Jobs). They namechecked the two biggest social networks and linked it to their own. That also makes sense. It all sounded so good!
For those who haven’t tried it yet, Ping! allows us to follow our favourite artists and receive updates from them in a twitter/facebook style update stream. These artists can post photos, videos and gig listings, and we can comment on them. We can also like and rate our favourite music (through iTunes), and the friends we are connected to can comment on our activity. Simple concept.
I’ve tried it and I’ve read a lot about it. And I don’t like it. A large amount of the time I spend on social networks involves talking about music so I feel I should like it. But I don’t. And here’s why:
I can’t find my friends
If Apple want me to talk to my friends about music, why have they made it so hard for me to connect to them? I have an iPhone, yet I can’t sync Ping! with my contacts to find friends. I use a Mac and have all my contacts in the Mac address book, yetI can’t sync Ping! with it. Nor can I find my friends from Gmail, facebook or twitter, which is where they all are already. Instead I have to send lame messages to my friends on these networks to ask them if they’re using Ping! and to follow me. Contrast with GetGlue that is a similar activity liking based social network I signed up to this week. It found my facebook, twitter and email friends for me. THAT’s social networking: making it easy to be social.
I can’t follow all my favourite music
I am a huge musicphile. I like a lot of bands and artists, some of whom are very popular and mainstream. Ping! allows me to follow them as long as they have a Ping! profile (which more major artists are starting to create). That sounds fine.
But I often find out about these artists before they’re huge. Often when they’re unsigned, and when only a few people know about them. Small artists don’t always sell their music through iTunes, and so don’t have Ping! profiles. Ping! lets me follow my favourite artists, but it doesn’t let me discover my NEXT favourite artist.
I can’t talk about anything outside iTunes
Let’s for a moment assume every artist I like, follow and listen to is on iTunes (even though they aren’t), allowing me to follow them. I also often discover bootleg live footage on YouTube, mySpace and vimeo that I like to share with my friends. I can’t do this on Ping! because this content didn’t come from iTunes. Apple have assumed that everything to do with music is already on iTunes, and it isn’t. Ping! doesn’t let me post any content to share with others. Apple are a lot of things, but they are not the music industry, and they never will be. They are just a part of it.
So, to recap, Apple have created a music based social network which makes it difficult to find my friends, follow all my favourite artists or talk about all the music I’m finding from all over the Internet.
All of a sudden it doesn’t sound so great.
I would however like to hear other users experiences. Perhaps I am using Ping! incorrectly, or expecting too much? Or perhaps I’ve misinterpreted what Ping! is meant to be?
Feel free to comment below or tweet me @mazherabidi to carry on the conversation…