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At last week's "D: All Things Digital" conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook cast some doubt on the future of Ping, the company's "social network for music." Good. It's time Apple killed the failed experiment.
"We tried Ping and the customer voted and said, this isn’t something I want to put a lot of energy into," Cook said. "Some customers love it, but there’s not a huge number that do, so will we kill it? I don’t know. I’ll look at it."
Ping, introduced in iTunes 10 in 2010, lets you post your thoughts and opinions, your favorite albums and songs, the music you’ve downloaded from iTunes, plus view concert listings and tell your friends which concerts you plan to attend. It lets you follow your favorite artists to see what they’re up to, check out photos and videos they’ve posted, see their tour dates and read comments about other artists and albums they’re listening to. You can also create a profile on iTunes to let your friends know who you’re following, what you’re listening to and which concerts you’re going to.
It sounds better on paper than in reality. In fact, NPR named Ping one of the worst ideas of 2010. It said:
"Why Ping has floundered can be summed up in a sentence: Apple doesn’t like sharing, thus, it is difficult for them to build a social network.
"Riddle me this: How did the Apple crew create a social networking site for music way back in September, but only introduce a way to swap playlists four months later?" she says. "Considering how important playlists are to the organization of a healthy music collection, one would imagine that type of functionality would have been ready at launch. But don’t let the new functionality fool you -- Ping restricts even this sharing to songs that already appear in the iTunes store. That great band you saw in concert and bought their $10 CD? They don’t make the cut. Picked up a love for k-pop sensation 2NE1 from a semester abroad in Korea? You’ll need to write that information into your profile."
The rollout of Pings was never a real success. Apple boasted that a million users signed up with 48 hours after it was announced; however, there are 160 million iTunes users so that's not a great vote of confidence. Now it's time to pull the plug.
-- Dennis Sellers