September 02, 2010- http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978491523
The new Nano and Apple TV aside, one of the more interesting announcements from Apple during their September 1st music-themed event surrounded Ping, Apple’s new social networking functionality within iTunes.
Unfortunately for Apple, the buzz around Ping isn’t all good, in fact much of it is negative. Reviews are currently expressing their disappointment over the lack of artist buy-in, comment censorship, the lack of Facebook integration, its partnership with LiveNation, and a few of its other features, or lack thereof.
However, many of the negative reviews that Apple is experiencing on Ping’s launch seem to stem from comparison to Facebook. Yet comparing Ping to Facebook is really like comparing those oft-referenced apples and oranges. In reality, Ping should be compared with Pandora, Deezer and other social music sites and recommendation engines that have gone social.
To compare Ping to Facebook is to misunderstand what Ping is attempting to do. Namely, it is attempting to sell you music by helping you to understand what is related to what you have already declared you enjoy. As the New York Times article reviewing Ping described, “With it, users will be able to follow friends and see what music they have bought or enjoyed, what concerts they plan to attend and what music they have reviewed. They will also be able to follow bands and get updates on their new releases, concert tours and other events.”
Ping is clearly attempting to be more music-focused than Facebook, and beyond incorporating the “follow” and “like” capabilities that Twitter and Facebook have made a part of the modern lexicon, the bulk of its resemblance to the world’s largest social networks is in the fact that it wants you to have friends, and to like things, and it wants to know who your friends are and what you like. In essence, it is being a social network.
The act of comparing Ping unnecessarily reiterates Facebook’s position as social networking platform to the world. Yes, Facebook is dominant in the social networking world. But is it the only social network? No.
Of course, there is one feature that Steve Jobs and his team seem to have explicitly designed to be distinct from Facebook, as described by the New York Times article, “Mr. Jobs said Ping would have simple privacy controls. Anyone will be able to follow bands and receive their updates, and users will be able to say whether they want to be followed by anyone or only by people they approve.”
Take that, Mark Zuckerberg.