When Apple released their iTunes integrated Ping service back in September 2010, it kind of looked to me like as they had just come out of some corporate buzz meeting where social networks were the topic of discussion. Not wanting to be left out of the social circle, I get the impression that Apple threw a couple of engineers into a room and told them to make iTunes a more socially capable beast, eventually giving birth to what we know as iTunes Ping.
In reality, the whole process was obviously a little more in-depth than that and Ping is obviously quite a sophisticated social and recommendation platform which Apple built into iTunes, but for one reason or another it just hasn’t taken off like they would hoped, with a lot of users choosing to disable the features within iTunes. When the official launch of the service happened nineteen months ago, it looked as though Ping could gather some traction, with just over one million registrations in over twenty three countries, Apple found themselves in a position where it hasn’t gained the popularity they would have hoped for.
The latest update to iTunes, version 10.6.3, still has the Ping service as an available option to users, but it looks as though the next major release of the software could remove all traces of iTunes Ping altogether. Speaking at the annual D10 conference, Tim Cook conceded that the service hadn’t been adopted by users as the company hoped it would, and if we know one thing about Apple; it is that they certainly won’t flog a dead horse, instead choosing to case it into the abyss.
Let’s be honest, if Apple does choose to eradicate Ping from the sands of time with the release of iTunes 11, we are pretty sure that even those who still use the service won’t shed any tears over it, but what will it mean for the social capabilities of the software? With the integration of Twitter into iOS 5 and with the recent announcements that Facebook will get the same treatment with iOS 6, it is more than likely that Apple will allow users to share songs, artists and albums through these already established and vast networks.
I never really understood why Apple chose to establish the Ping service in the first place, although I have to admit, I on several occasion found myself using it to share my disastrous taste in music with the world. The venture into trying to create and build a music-based social network will undoubtedly have given Apple some vital feedback and experience to take into future projects, so stay tuned as I don’t believe they are quite done with the social network projects just yet.