Why I Like Apple’s Ping: Initial Impressions

December 20, 2020 uncategorized


With release of the latest iTunes 10, Apple has thrown it’s hat into the social media ring. Ping is an addition to iTunes which allows people to spy on friends, strangers, and celebs and discuss the one thing you’re most likely to have in common: music. Apple makes no illusions about Ping – this is a service created to help you buy more music. But the way it does it is delightful and engaging.

What first struck me about PIng was how easy it was to read updates from popular artists like Kate Perry and U2. Having found that neither Journey nor William Shattner were artists I could follow, I settled for Lady Gaga. Reading her posts did make me feel a tad dirty, as though I was sorting through someone else’s laundry, but I was reminded that this phenomenon is in fact responsible for the success of social media.

As I moved on to follow another music dignitary that Apple suggested I follow, Rick Rubin, I was again fascinated by Rick’s latest album choices (or those of his personal assistant), and found myself falling in love with old albums all over again. Who knew that the producer of Jay-Z likes Dusty Springfield? Not exactly valuable trivia, but interesting none the less.


I found the overall user experience of Ping to be mixed. While it’s very easy to consume content from a just a few savants selected by Apple, it’s difficult to really add to the community in any other meaningful way than comments. I still don’t understand how you can add a review, as clicking on the “My Reviews” link gives the nebulous message written in third peson: “This user has not written any reviews”, and iTunes offers no ideas of how to make that happen.

Ping’s biggest limitation is the fact that it’s constrained by iTunes and does not live in an online world (really, Apple?). This in itself wouldn’t be such an issue for me if iTunes wasn’t one of my least favorite applications on the planet. But, because I like the idea of Ping so much, I’ll leave my iTunes rant for another day.

Final Thoughts

As a social network, Ping has a long way to go before it captures enough users to be truly valuable. However, out of the box, there is tremendous promise – enough to forgive what is in my opinion some odd user experience choices. I hope Apple makes the community aspect of Ping more engaging, otherwise I think Ping will have a difficult time reaching mass adoption. As a proof of concept, however, Apple offers us the seeds of a social community scattered among one medium that everyone one likes: music. And that is something that makes me excited.

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