As 2010 draws to a close the internet will be awash with all kinds of best and worst lists of the year. Ping is making a few of those lists; the much maligned and overhyped music social network from Apple is being branded as one of the worst ideas of 2010. Ping was predicted to be the killer app to MySpace, but ultimately failed to warm to music fans. Launched with fanfare as part of iTunes 10 in September, four months later a Ping discussion by and large usually concluded with a shrug. Ping user numbers have dwindled at about 1 million users – less than 1% of iTunes’ total 160 million customers.
The social networks’ embarrassingly bad start doesn’t come as surprise to many. As a consumer electronics company Apple has always stuck to what it’s good at – product development and marketing, and most recently – digital media with iTunes. Seemingly always on the forefront of consumer technology trends, Apple was slow to respond to shifting consumer behavior in social media and many say Apple’s first foray into social media was too little, too late. The problem stems from the fact that Ping emerged from a company that is very protective and controlling of its assets, which is completely counter to the nature of social media that is very much open. Ping exists in its own walled garden and until recently allowing linking with Twitter, completely existed on its own within iTunes. Apple was hoping that bands and artists would use Ping to communicate with fans and vice versa, but the majority of still use Twitter as their primary form of micro-communication.