Steve Jobs announced Ping this week at the special music event in San Francisco. I’m going to assume that you’re aware of what this new Music-based Social Network is.
If you’re not, head over to this article at Macworld, and get yourself up to speed, and then come on back.
I try not to rant on this blog, but I just couldn’t hold back this time.
My first impression after creating my Ping profile (oh my, I can’t even SAY it with a straight face; I felt this way when Microsoft announced Bing) was “wow, I really no really do not have time for yet another social network!”
My second impression was “wait, a social network based solely on sharing your music purchases with friends and followers?!?” Hasn’t this been done before? I can share my Amazon purchases socially, can’t I? But why on earth would I want to do that?
When MySpace came out, I got that. I was among the first 200,000 MySpace users. When Facebook hit the scene, I got that too. When Twitter came out, I was a little skeptical at first, but I quickly came around, and now I’m an avid Twitter user. I also dabble with Foursquare, and I have a profile on Blip.fm which I use every so often to share music, and expose myself to new tunes I’ve not heard yet. See, Blip.fm and even Pandora make a lot of sense to me. (especially Pandora.) I’m following some friends on Pandora that I know to have good musical taste, and when I hear something new, I add it to my channel, or I create a new channel based on that track. Pretty cool, but unless I hear something I really like, I don’t have to actually buy anything. No money changes hands.
MySpace is free. Twitter is free. Facebook is free. Pandora is free. Blip.fm is free. Foursquare is free. And Ping is free too, but not really; because to get anything out of actually participating in the Ping “social network,” you’ve got to be making purchases quite regularly!
I suppose that what Ping has going for it is that you can follow your favorite bands’ own profiles, and get “behind the curtain” on the hip musical recommendations of your idols. Apple seems to be growing out whatever traction they’ve gained from their “Celebrity Playlist” feature. I do spend a fair amount of cash on the iTunes store every month, so don’t think I’m one of these guys who feel that the only good thing is a free thing. That’s not my issue here. My real issue is that this is the dumbest “social network” idea I’ve heard in a long time.
Perhaps I’m wrong, and this will spread like wildfire, and Apple will realize quadrupled monthly music downloads, which will, in turn, save the music industry. Who knows? I, for one, do not have time to put energy into yet another social network, and especially no time for one whose very existence is predicated on my making regular purchases from within the system.
Good luck Apple on your Social Network meets Storefront experiment. For now, I’ll stick with iTunes’ Genius feature and Pandora on the iPhone.
Of course, if you’d like to follow me on Ping, you may, though I don’t know how to invite you from outside of the iTunes system. Apple seems to have created a real “walled garden” in there. My iTunes ID is firstname.lastname@example.org. Do a search, and I might just show up. You can see what I’ve bought and maybe you’ll like to buy the stuff I bought too.
That’s pretty optimistic thinking though.