The Birth of Ping; Apple’s Social Network
Apple is no stranger to innovation so when Steve Jobs announced the creation of Ping, a social network for music lovers, people weren’t very surprised that he’d managed to do it again. Social networking has been a hot spot for brands and businesses alike to interact with consumers and potential consumers via multiple platforms that are built around a variety of different interests. However, what about bands and artists and people with a real passion for music? Apple saw an opportunity and seized it. Not only that, but they did so with such precision that only 48 hours after its debut, Ping had already acquired over one million registered users.
The social network, offered as part of the iTunes 10 update, allows users to create a profile with a photo and other personal information, and add friends and artists they appreciate. Once they’ve joined, users can specify which genres of music they prefer and see what friends and artists are listening to. Users can also post reviews on songs, albums or artists for everyone to see and link to them from their profiles. Ping not only allows an expansion of your musical library, but it also gives people the ability to interact through a shared passion for music.
Not every artist has jumped on the bandwagon but those who have are already establishing fan bases quickly. From the perspective of an average user, I can say that the reason I enjoy it so much is that I love discovering a new band or artist and completely emerging myself in their sound. If I can see what tunes Madonna is listening too, you better believe I’ll check them out. If I, as a fan, am interested in an artist’s music, I can bet I’ll also be interested in what that artist is listening to personally since there is no doubt that their musical choices influence their own sound to some extent.
Aside from the people who dived in early, there may be a few who are hesitant to share their musical library with the world, and for good reason! Who doesn’t have at least ONE embarrassing track on their iPod? I know I could name a few! Luckily for these people, Ping offers the option to display music you like on your profile, or not. As for privacy, Ping has kept it very simple. You’re either private or public. If you choose to remain public, anyone can follow you (similar to Twitter) without your permission and your profile photo and provided information will be accessible by anyone on the network. If you choose to remain private, no one can follow you but your name and photo will appear for some options such as writing reviews.
For the time being one of the biggest downfalls I’ve managed to spot is the horrendous “recommendations” Ping offers. Instead of tying this into iTunes’ Genius feature, Ping is simply pulling the top artists on the network which presents two problems; the recommendations are nowhere near the music I enjoy and Ping can only pull from which artists have signed up so if you’re favourite artist doesn’t have a profile, you’re out of luck, at least for the time being. Hopefully Apple will clue in and fix this issue in the future but for now it looks like I’ll be using the search bar a whole lot.
From what I can tell, Ping is just your average social network so far. There are many updates, changes and additions that need to be completed before Ping can rise to its ultimate potential. What it requires to be successful is not unattainable and knowing Apple’s track record, it should not be difficult to incorporate. Ping isn’t incredibly useful just yet but it has managed to lay a solid base for a future worldwide platform that has the potential to change the way people share music.