Last week, during a presentation to the Media by CEO Steve Jobs, Apple unveiled Ping, the star feature of the latest version of their Music and Media Management Software, ITunes 10. I watched the presentation live and I have to admit to a bit of scepticism as I was watching, although I decided to reserve judgement until I had at least played about with it a bit over the weekend.
Having done so, my verdict is as overwhelming as to most the presentation was uncharacteristically underwhelming:
Ping is SHIT!
Let’s take a look at the seven reasons why, I think, Ping is so totally SHIT…
1. Ping does not take into account artists in your music collection before recommending artists to follow.
After downloading the new version of Itunes you can access your Ping profile by following the link under that of the Itunes Store, start adding personal details, and start following other users as well as artists.
But Ping does not look at what artists are in your music collection before making recommendations. Instead promoting the likes of Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift to everyone, regardless of music taste.
2. Ping recommendations don’t get any better even after you have started following your favourite artists.
This might be down to there still being a limited amount of bands with public profiles only a few days after the network’s launch, but come on Apple… Shakira? You already know that I am into Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden…
3. You cannot connect to Facebook to find your friends there…
Now, to the fair to Apple, this was one of the features, which unfortunately got removed after a day due to Apple and Facebook failing to agree an arrangement to use the service. It’s not the first time Facebook has cut off an application from the Facebook Connect API. Sites with a lot of users do require a special agreement.
Had I been quicker in downloading Itunes10, I would have been able to connect to my Facebook Friends who are also on Ping, and might have felt slightly different about it.
Until Apple are able to get this back on, and that’s a big IF, I will not be moved from my stance that Ping is a load of crap.
4. There is also no other way of finding or inviting your friends in bulk.
Come on Apple… do you really expect me to type all of my friends email addresses, one by one, so that I can connect or invite them to join? Maybe in 1998, but with the portability API’s out there today, why should I?
Even if Facebook isn’t playing ball, you can still use OAuth to let me find my Twitter connections. Or at least let me import my email contacts!
5. You can’t send updates out to Facebook or Twitter.
You cannot call an application Social, if it is not going to allow it’s users to communicate with their friends where they happen to be, and for most people that will be not be in Ping, but in Facebook or Twitter.
It’s as simple concept, and the reason music applications like Spotify, which are truly Social, are so popular.
You are missing a big trick there Steve-O…
People aren’t about to ditch their online hang-outs to go chill at your shop. But let them bring their Facebook and Twitter conversations to it, and you might just bag a few new customers.
6. (This one has less to do with Ping itself, and more with Itunes) Still no Music Locker!
Late in 2009 Apple acquired Lala, an online music service with the technology to allow users to scan their music collections and access all those songs on Lala, from whatever web connected device they chose. Anywhere!
In May Apple closed down Lala, prompting speculation that they were about to add their technology to Itunes, and that Iphone and Ipod touch users would soon be able to access their music collections from the cloud…
Alas, we are still waiting for that.
It isn’t clear yet what Apple’s objective was in this acquisition. Were they genuinely interested in their technology, or were they just eliminating a potential competitor?
Either way, it looks like Apple is siding with the major labels, who do not like the idea of users being able to access one copy of their content from multiple devices.
7. No Music Sharing.
Ok, I might be asking for a bit much. Sharing links to tunes is something that is possible on streaming services like Spotify, Last.fm and Grooveshark because there is a per play royalty involved. And the labels are still very weary of these, as there is only a fraction of the money in per play royalties as there is in CD and download sales.
But who is to say that there isn’t a feasible business model for a controlled sharing of owned copies of songs? If you can share CD’s with your friends, then why the hell should you not be able to share a link to a tune, which your friend can listen to, say once or twice before access expires?
If I was an artist (or a label executive for that matter), I like to think that I would be quite happy if people were able to share my material freely. I might get a lot more fans, and ultimately paying customers, than I might otherwise.
Of course, for that to happen there would have to be a music locker on the cloud in place first… and for that to happen, Apple will likely require the approval of the major record labels.
So the question really is… Will the labels ever see this opportunity, or will they continue to protect their old publishing interests?
I suspect they won’t see sense any time soon.
So… Do you think Ping is shit?