Can Apple Fix Ping?

Apple's new music social network got off to a bumpy start this year. The company couldn't work out a deal to add Facebook Connect; it kept record labels out of the mix; created odd guidelines for members; and at last count, had just over 2,000 artists on the network.

But Apple has been working to correct its mistakes.

In the past months, the company has better integrated Ping with iTunes. It hashed out a deal with Twitter to port followers and activity between the networks. And yesterday it introduced new features including social playlists, a tool that enables friends to collaborate on, share, and publish music playlists on Ping.

So why haven't you joined the network? And more importantly, what could Apple do to improve the service?

Apple has lost a lot of opportunity to create a fun place to socially share one's music and tastes. On Ping, you can essentially share two types of music: the songs you "Like" and the songs you've purchased. (Those songs start out as one and the same, as Apple automatically updates your "Music I Like" section with purchases from iTunes.)

Noticeably absent from these sharing options: Music I'm Listening to, in real-time. Apple's iChat IM client is already capable of broadcasting this information as your status message. Wouldn't it be fun to see what your friends and favorite artists are listening to at this moment, all in one place? That might give them more reason to opt in. How do you think Apple can fix its struggling network?

Follow Austin Carr on Twitter.

[Image by NASA]

[Image by Andrew Hur]

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  • Vaughn McKenzie

    The main thing: Give us an easy way to find and follow our friends. Ping still feels like a closed network, which is akin to the Apple ethos, but reneging on the Facebook Connect deal was probably what stagnated the service the most. Imagine your Facebook status accompanied by a real-time feed of what you were listening to. Perhaps it could be incorporated into the chat functionality as it was in MSN messenger. I just feel that they've missed some key steps. Would be awesome to work on Ping though... I believe it still has huge potential.

  • B.Petersen

    How about making itunes better before wasting time on ping. As much as I like the mac platform and OS I cannot stand itunes and its clunkiness and inflexibility. I end up defaulting to winamp for my music library management, importability, remote access and ability to playing formats that itunes won't allow me to import.

  • Herbert Reininger

    Ping is not social, that is the problem. And even if it were, we really don't need more of yet the same, already we're overtaxed and our attention is fragmented to nano scale.

    If Apple would come out from their ivory tower and join all of us already out there, then maybe Ping could be of interest - but only if it offers a killer feature no one else can offer.

    Judging from Apple's behavior I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • acarr

    Thanks for the comment, Herbert. What do you think that killer feature could be though?

  • Tim Baker

    Ping needs a LOT of work. It's so out of touch with what makes a successful social music network. The only social music site that's somewhat getting it right is

    I actually just wrote a blog post on what Ping needs to do to be relevant which you might be interested in:

  • acarr

    I agree -- purchasing history is probably the least interesting info to share with friends. Why won't Apple let us create our own lists of favorite songs and artists? (Or pull that data from our iTunes' "Most Played" chart?)

  • Tim Baker

    I don't know. It makes no sense. That alone shows that they only use this as a marketing tool and not a true social network. They can't be that close minded to think people's libraries only consist of iTunes purchased songs.