Apple Launches Ping... and Underwhelms

I'm not a big Apple guy, I will admit.  But I am a musician and a social media junkie.  So when Steve Jobs got on stage in San Francisco and announced Ping, the music social network, I was actually interested.  I figured social networking done with Apple's typical style and perfection would be pretty good.   Unfortunately, it's not.

To get Ping, you need to have iTunes 10 installed on your computer.  As a 99% Ubuntu user, this stinks.   Apparently no one has told the folks in Cupertino that there's this thing called Linux, which is odd, because MacOS and Linux are two chips off the same block.  Luckily, I dual-boot Windows XP (insert Foghorn Leghorn voice) fuh just such an emergencah. 

So I downloaded iTunes 10 (which you oddly cannot upgrade to from inside iTunes) and waited, and waited while it took over my laptop  installed.  Then I signed up for Ping by clicking the slightly awkward "Turn on Ping" button.  Create a profile and upload a photo, which apparently needs to be "approved" by Apple.

I set my musical preference to "Christian and Gospel."  The first thing I see are iTunes "suggestions" for me.  The first two were Lady GaGa and Yo-Yo Ma.  I guess Apple has a thing for repetitive names.

The first five artists I searched for had no results.  I was searching for nobodies like David Crowder* Band, Hillsong United and the current #1 Christian-Artist-on-iTunes Israel Houghton.  I also found absolutely no way to claim the album we have on iTunes as an artist, which was easy to do on Amazon. 

I did find my buddy Joel, so now I have a new social network.  Woot!

Alright, bottom line time:

  • Why wouldn't Apple have taken the time to sign up some artists first?  I'm not talking about indies, but there are few major label artists signed up.  It would have been nice to have some content before the masses were allowed in. 
  • The screenshot Jobs showed at the event showed a Facebook search box, right in Ping.  What happened?  Most of us have spent time and effort building our social networks.  Facebook and Twitter integration are a must these days.  Did Jobs take his ball and go home? 
  • Why no web portal?  I mean, really, Steve, not everyone uses iTunes.  
  • The process is slow, and klunky, and not typically Apple.  This is more reminiscent of Google Wave. 
I guess time will tell how Ping will shape up.  It has great potential, but I'm surprised Apple released such a rough product.  Combined with the iPhone4 debacle, I'm wondering if there is a major paradigm shift in Cupertino.


  1. I wonder if the paradigm shift happened at apple 3 to 4 years back, and what we've been witnessing is the effect of that gradually filtering through. There were a number of design gaffs with the Unibody macbooks, the way in which iPads and iPhone communicate with host PCs, a rejection of Flash, issues with software vendors in the iPhone apps store. Basically a whole raft of stuff. The organisation is still full of clever, smart people, so many of the products coming through are basically good, but has serious issues now with attitude and customer care

    Alternatively I guess you could view it as sponsorship through iTunes being the price of entry. I always refuse to update iTunes (100-200Mb) every month because I'll never willingly use it. As a Linux user (i.e. freeloader) Apple wants you to shrivel up and die/give in and buy their software.

  2. A couple of staggering announcements from Apple might indicate you are onto something. They are publishing a guide for iTunes App store applications. And they are allowing third-party development software.

    Neither of those things fix Ping, though.


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