Can Apple Ping Make A Comeback? What If It Connects To The iTunes Web Store?

Apple Ping hasn't been the success story of 2010 that the company had hoped it would be. Part of the problem lies with the fact that it sits in a silo outside of traditional social networking channels. Perhaps moving the iTunes store to the web could change that.

With Top 10 lists of 2010 slowly making their annual roll-out one particular social networking venture from a little company called Apple is starting to appear on some Top 10 Failure lists – Apple Ping. With rumors circulating of an upcoming iTunes web store the company’s fledgling social network could make a comeback – effectively bridging the mega-successful iTunes store, Ping, and the rest of the internet.

Released in September in 2010 Apple Ping was launched with significant fanfare but little applause. Even die-hard Apple fan boys couldn’t quite figure out what all the fuss was about. It seems, at least for now, the writing is on the wall – Ping is a disappointment. Steve Jobs described Ping as “Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes” Wired proclaimed it too big to fail. That’s what was said about the Titanic too. So what exactly went wrong?

It had the makings of a true success story. Apple had plenty of reasons to becoming the next big social network. There were 160 million reasons to be exact, in 23 countries. That’s how many people could have adopted Ping at launch, so it made sense for Apple to try and break into a space that they had watched from the sidelines for so many years. Social was in, and Apple wanted a piece of it. It packed all kinds features including social music discovery, the ability to follow friends, posting of opinions, concert listings, and on and on. Yet now a mere three months later there is little abuzz about Ping. The store continues to thrive but the social network popularity is nowhere to be seen.

So what was lacking? For starters, many where miffed about the continuing lack of ability to listen to entire songs. Ping users could only listen to 30-second preview clips in iTunes as usual (which is now 90 seconds, as of today – Oh so generous Apple). At least with MySpace, you can visit an artists page and start spinning their latest track – not so with Ping.

Many first applauded the fact that Apple was encouraging people to follow their friends music tastes – if their friends we’re actually buying and follow artists on iTunes. The reality many people have friends who purchase and acquire music from a variety of sources, so relying on the Ping social network for music discovery completely misses the mark. Another beef many users have is that Apple has alienated PC users because of the applications clunky and bloated software, which tends to sometimes bog down even the most expensive machines. Disgruntled PC users saw a glimmer of hope this year when Apple began shown hints of an upcoming web application with the launch of iTunes preview pages, but the preview page still keeps music buying and listening within the near decade-old desktop application.

Music consumption is headed towards the cloud and Apple should be leading the pack. If Apple continues down this path, it’s a sign of good things to come. Social networks belong on the web, after all. Twitter, Facebook and even MySpace have figured out how to play nicely together for the most part and users are happily jumping from one network to the next because of the webs interconnected nature.

And why is iTunes still called iTunes? They sell TV shows, movies, books and music. Apple could easily bring it all together with a wide reaching, rich media experience that isn’t confined to platform dependent software. For now, Ping remains in a silo and has even alienated most mobile devices not running iOS.

It only makes sense for Apple to bridge the divide with its social network and the rest of the web by bringing it’s heralded iTunes store to the web. If the company does make that kind of move its beloved Ping actually stands a chance to be relevant, and on a much grander scale.

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