With much fanfare, Apple launched Ping alongside iTunes 10 as a social network for music on September 1, 2010. Steve Jobs hailed it as being “sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes”. Despite signing up over a million users within the first 48 hours from launch, the experiment quickly went wrong.
The promised Facebook integration was pulled shortly after Ping was released, reportedly because Facebook wanted “onerous terms” that Apple could not agree to. Making good on Tim Cook’s promise, earlier this month Ping began alerting users it was no longer accepting new sign ups and would shut down Sunday, September 30.
Are you sad that Apple sent Ping to the technology graveyard?
The original press release billed Ping as “a new music-oriented social network for following your favorite artists and friends to discover what music they’re talking about, listening to and downloading”.
Ping let users post their thoughts and opinions on favorite albums and songs, view concert listings, tell friends which concerts they planned on attending and some such.
But Ping crashed and burned spectacularly.
As in the post-Jobs era Apple integrates with Facebook deeply at both the operating system and application level, it comes as little surprise that iTunes 11, which comes out in October, will integrate with Facebook (and Twitter), letting users easily like and share songs, apps and other pieces of content.
Here’s Jobs unveiling Ping and showing off short-lived Facebook integration.
An interesting nugget: Karsten Manufacturing, the parent company of golfing equipment vendor PING, announced shortly after Ping launched an agreement with Apple to give club Cupertino rights to use the Ping trademark in connection with iTunes.
iTunes 11, a major redesign focused on simplicity, is launching next month.
When you think of it, the lack of Facebook integration was the prime reason that Ping never caught on with the general public.
Facebook is the social network of our time.
To many folks Facebook is the timeline of their life.
As Facebook claims more and more of our social graph, any application or web service which strives to provide social aspects has no choice but integrate with Facebook.
You may like or dislike it (pun intended), but that’s the reality.
That being said, I’m not so sure that Ping’s demise is to be blamed completely on Facebook’s “onerous terms”, though admittedly it was a major part of it.
I’d say the truth is somewhere in the middle.
It didn’t help that celebrities like Lady Gaga created official Ping profiles
In a way, the thought of Apple pushing song discovery by taking advantage of Facebook probably did not sit well with Mark Zuckerberg, who admired Steve Jobs (the feeling was mutual) but nonetheless pursued other plans.
At the time, Zuck & Co. were busy building APIs that now enable any application to integrate with Facebook Timeline. So Facebook simply implemented a block which resulted in the inability to search for an iTunes user’s friends on Facebook who are also connected to Ping.
The Ping application on Facebook was also removed.
The Facebook Connect button had been live in Ping for barely 24 hours.
PC World later explained that the “onerous terms” Apple had mentioned related to fees high-traffic services like Ping are required to negotiate with Facebook in order to use the Facebook APIs, in accordance to Developer Principles and Policies.
Apple’s lead in the music space, combined with the company’s natural tendency to control all the aspects of its offerings and reluctance to give third-parties access to user data (Google Maps, anyone?), proved to great a hurdle to overcome for both Silicon Valley giants.
Joy of Tech‘s take on iTunes Ping
On a final note, I never bothered creating a Ping account.
To me, social networks are one of the greatest time-sucks of our time and I simply wasn’t willing to manage yet another social network profile.
These days, it’s just Facebook and Twitter for me: I’ve pretty much deleted all my accounts on other social networks that compete with the two.
We’re eager to learn how you feel about Ping’s retirement so we’re asking this straight question.
Are you sad to see Apple put Ping out of its misery?
I say good riddance.
As always, feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments right below.