We are all aware of Apple’s flawless track record when it comes to creating new gadgets. Their web services, however, have not fared quite so well. Now, with the demise of the company’s social media experiment, Ping, Apple is finally acknowledging its own deficiencies. In choosing to integrate with preexisting social networks Facebook and Twitter instead, they are making a worthy sacrifice.
With the notable exception of iTunes, Apple has a history of rudderless web-based services and software. Just last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an apology for the poor quality of Apple’s “half-baked” Maps app. MobileMe, Apple’s original cloud storage system, was scrapped earlier this year. And finally, on Sept. 30, Apple quietly shut down its music based social media service, after years of disinterest and mockery by iTunes users.
The unpopularity of Ping had a lot to do with the poor first impression it made on these users. While limited numbers of artists within the hub occasionally provided useful information, Ping’s limiting of music samples to 30 seconds and excessive commercialization was a big turn-off. Users were not even able to connect with friends or comment on their iTunes playlists.
With the latest version of iTunes, personal iTunes libraries will be linked with Facebook and Twitter accounts. Users will be able to “Like” and “Share” music, apps, books and podcasts. iTunes will also be able to actively compete with free on-demand music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, which have been siphoning away its users, especially those in younger demographics. The new integration features function similarly to Spotify, with iTunes activity appearing in the ticker and on people’s timelines.
This new strategy is an obvious step forward for Apple that will not only delight iTunes fans but also the independent developers who will now have a more robust network in which to promote their apps.
Apple may have tried its best, but Ping could not compete with the world’s most popular social network. As it turns out, users weren’t interested in limiting their social connections to the iTunes universe.