I took the time to download iTunes 10 over the weekend. With it, the new service – Ping. A social network within a walled garden of iTunes.
But not really that much of a social network
The service is simple to activate. Apple – just like Google did with Buzz – placed an icon on the sidebar of iTunes. You select it and the service asks you to turn it on. You can turn the service off at any time, but you have to go hunting that option…
Once you set up your profile, you are ready to start. Just like Twitter, you find your friends and start following them. They can turn around and follow you – or maybe not.
Why it’s not a Social Network
It’s simple: you don’t get to be social at all unless an approved action or transaction takes place. You can friend someone, you can like and comment on something that happened, but you cannot really initiate a conversation. At least, I cannot seem to find a way to do that…
There is no “What are you doing now” type option. I have to wait for someone to purchase something to reply. It’s like sitting in class until a teacher says something – you can then raise your hand to comment or question.
Selective content to Ping
Since I don’t have cable in my house, I purchase the season pass for “Mad Men” through iTunes. I was surprised to not see that Ping did not post: Jeffrey Powers watched episode 405 of Mad Men. It didn’t post: Jeffrey Powers just subscribed to these podcasts or that I just downloaded the latest and greatest iPhone app. I couldn’t even press a button to announce that I was doing stuff on iTunes.
However, I can download a song, choose to “Like” it and that information will show up in Ping.
What? I have to keep iTunes open now?
Some of us don’t think too much on this – you might have iTunes open all the time. However, I try to keep a minimum amount of programs open.
When iTunes is open, it also opens up Apple Mobile Device Helper, disnoted (for iPhone connection) and a series of other processes depending on what you have connected to your iTunes. The full list of processes are on Apple’s website. Not all of those processes end when I close iTunes.
Apparently, spammers hit the page as quickly as they did with Buzz and Facebook. Apple has taken steps to resolve that one. Being behind that walled garden might help curb issues. Still, if people stop using this service, it could become a constant problem. Spammers seem to love any open door.
Will Ping replace Facebook?
Not at this current stage. I always said you would have to add Farmville and MafiaWars to have that happen. Apple doesn’t even let people know what apps you bought on your iPhone.
At most it’s a sounding board for musical artists. Instead of hearing about politics, technology or sports; you find out about what music is new and what people’s tastes are in music.
For instance, if you looked at my Ping profile, you will find out my musical tastes and what songs I just downloaded.
In summary, Ping is the social network that lets you talk when it’s your turn. You can only talk about the stuff posted on the board – which is limited. I cannot even find my Twitter friends easily, which might be a good thing. You must use iTunes to use it, so if you don’t use iTunes to purchase music, this service is completely useless.